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AMC Networks Stock Hits All-Time High

Josh Sapan

Analysts raise their price targets on the cable network group that owns "The Walking Dead."

The stock of cable channel group AMC Networks hit a 52-week high early on Tuesday after the latest bullish analyst reports and following late Monday news about its portion of a legal settlement.

The stock went as high as $65.28 early in Tuesday's trading session, a 52-week high and its highest price since it became a separate company following a spin-off from cable operator Cablevision Systems in mid-2011. On Monday, the stock had hit its previous high of $64.34 without drawing much attention.

As of 11 a.m. EST on Tuesday, the stock was up 1.1 percent at $65.05, giving the company a market value of $4.66 billion.

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Late Monday, AMC Networks, led by CEO Josh Sapan, and Cablevision announced details of how they will split up the cash portion of their settlement in a recently concluded legal case against Dish Network. Of the $700 million in settlement proceeds, Cablevision will receive $525 million. AMC is getting $175 million, in line with, or slightly below, Wall Street expectations.

Early in the morning, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Ben Mogil raised his AMC price target from $58 to $70 and reiterated his “buy” rating.

"We have revised our estimates upwards to reflect the continued ratings and advertising growth," he wrote in his report. "While the $175 million settlement with Cablevision over the Voom proceeds is slightly lower than we had anticipated, the resolution is positive and likely in the range of expectations."

Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente, who has an "overweight" rating on the stock, which is similar to a "buy," echoed that and raised his price target from $62 to $68.

"While we had originally thought the [legal settlement proceeds] split would be 50/50 between Cablevision and AMC, we still believe this is a positive for shares as it relieves uncertainty around the timing and size of the final payout," he wrote. "Additionally, the proceeds will likely be used towards further debt pay-down, and we could see potential for return of capital." 

Other analysts have also recently issued more bullish notes on the company that owns The Walking Dead and Mad Men. For example, Evercore Partners last month upgraded the stock from “underweight” to “equal weight" with a $65 price target. And Maxim Group upgraded the stock from “hold” to a “buy” rating last month with a $72 price target.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai