SoundView Downgrades EchoStar Rating

Analyst Tim O'Neil says a merger between chief rival GM Hughes and News Corp. would put substantial pressure on margins across the industry

SoundView downgraded its investment rating on shares of EchoStar Communications (DISH ) to buy from strong buy. On Oct. 23, the company posted $0.01 third quarter earnings per share vs. a $0.30 loss per share one year earlier.

Analyst Tim O'Neil says EchoStar's current operational results are trending in an opposite directions from its competitor. He expects a deal between GM Hughes and News Corp. is most likely, and believes an aggressive penetration strategy will ensue, putting substantial pressure on margins across the industry. O'Neil notes reduced tensions between DirecTV and its rural distributor are likely to reduce EchoStar's grip on rural markets.

The analyst lowered his 440,000 Q4 subscriber number to 400,000, and his 1,720,000 2002 subscriber estimate to 1,540,000.

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