Comcast Shares Hit New High

Analysts point to the recent NBCUniversal deal, lower-than-expected subscriber losses in the latest quarter and new shareholder rewards as key drivers of the stock.

NEW YORK -- Class A shares of Comcast Corp. hit a 52-week high of $25.82 in Monday trading, which also marked the stock's highest price since September 2007.

The shares of the cable giant finished Monday 2 percent higher at $25.76, leaving the stock up 17.3 percent year-to-date.

Comcast's run-up so far in 2011 comes as analysts have said the stock has traded at a discount to peers, and the recent closing of the acquisition of a 51 percent stake in NBCUniversal removed a key overhang. Also, the company earlier this month reported lower-than-expected basic cable subscriber losses and unveiled new shareholder rewards.

Other big TV distribution stocks have also done well year-to-date and have in recent weeks hit 52-week highs, except for Dish Network, amid reduced concerns about cord cutting.

Shares of Dish Network are up 18.3 percent so far this year, DirecTV's have risen 15.1 percent, while Time Warner Cable's stock is up 9.3 percent, and Cablevision's has gained 8.9 percent.

"Comcast is up as there was some tentativeness ahead of the NBCUni approval as to whether the conditions might be uneconomic, which ended up not being the case," said Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce. "In addition, Comcast did much better than expected in its fourth quarter." Joyce has a "buy" rating and $29 target price on the stock.

Collins Stewart analyst Thomas Eagan, who has a $32 target and "buy" rating on Comcast, recently said: "Comcast is one of the most compelling distribution stocks because it trades below its peers despite similar operating cash flow growth rates."

Evercore Partners analyst Bryan Kraft echoed that. He has a $30 target and "overweight" rating, similar to a "buy," on the cable stock. "We expect positive estimate revisions, disclosure of pro forma NBCU joint venture financials (expected with first-quarter earnings), and communication of management's plans/financial targets regarding NBCU to act as further positive catalysts for the stock price," he said in a recent report.