AT&T Buyout of Echostar "Less Likely"

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Includes: DISH, T
by: Eric Savitz

So maybe AT&T (NYSE:T) is getting serious about this whole video thing.

Credit Suisse’s Bryan Kraft Friday morning cut his rating on Echostar (NASDAQ:DISH) to Underperform from Neutral, based on the theory that it has become less likely that AT&T will make a bid for the Dish Network parent. “There are signs that AT&T’s U-Verse TV platform is becoming more stable and may be at or near the point where it is ready to scale,” Kraft wrote.

Specifically, AT&T announced that it has launched in Dallas-Forth Worth with approximately 200,000 home initially. This is in addition to the Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin markets launched last week. Later this month AT&T is scheduled to launch in Kansas City. Management made it clear that they had slowed their U-Verse launches in order to fix these issues and would resume the rollout once that had a satisfactory product, which it appears they are now doing.

And the punchline is this: “If U-Verse is in fact scaling, then we believe it is less likely that AT&T will acquire DISH.”

Kraft advises investors to unwind the long DISH/short DirecTV (DTV) pair trade he had recommended in December.

Friday morning, Echostar was down $1.15 to $43.25; DirecTV was up 13 cents at $22.83; AT&T was up 12 cents at $36.63.