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TW-U S West deal sends cable biz stocks soaring

Shares of several cable heavyweights — most notably Tele-Communications Inc. — have advanced on the expectation that other ventures involving TV and telephone companies could soon provide an encore to the recent Time Warner-U S West linkup.

A big beneficiary of what is deemed anticipatory activity, TCI closed up 1 1/ 4, or 6.1%, at $ 21.875.

Also in trading, Jones Intercable was up 1/2, or 12.2%, at $ 13.75; and Comcast Corp. shares picked up 7/8, or 4.5%.

“Last week’s announcement by Time Warner and U S West went a long way to affirming that the cable platform is the correct architecture for introducing new services over the telecommunications network,” says PaineWebber Inc. analyst Christopher Dixon. “I think more and more people are just now beginning to digest the implications of the deal.”

As reported last week, telco U S West decided to ante up $ 2.5 billion for a 25.5% stake in Time Warner Entertainment.

Speculation currently centers on the seven regional Bell-operating companies and cable’s largest concerns, which in addition to TW include TCI and Comcast.

“You have a situation in which there are seven possible brothers for three or so brides,” says Goldman Sachs & Co. telecommunications analyst Robert Morris. “So you’re assured that the smaller group will probably find suitors.”

Another boon for investors was the continuing impact of the new cable reregulations. Broadcast station group owners put the top 15 cable MSOs on notice that they would be looking for cash in return for carrying their programming under the new retransmission consent clause. CapCities/ABC was up $ 3 to $ 553.50 and CBS added $ 3 to $ 237.75.

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