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Cable, Telcos, Par hot stox

This is the season when the nation’s biggest investors make clear who they think will be winners on Wall Street.

Institutional investors have been filing changes of stock positions in hundreds of companies with the Securities & Exchange Commission, and it’s yielding a bumper crop of new opinions.

Capital Research Co., the largest player in the entertainment field, with between $ 5 billion and $ 10 billion in investments, has made several moves, voting with its shares. CRC is a unit of the giant Capital Group, which manages $ 110 billion in assets.

Fund manager Gordon Crawford has bailed out of Carolco Pictures, riding its shares down to $ 2 after buying in at an average price of $ 9. The indie saw its stock plunge from a high of $ 3.75 last year to just 75 cents.

Crawford isn’t worried, though, since he has the largest stake in Time Warner , which added 33.7% in value over 1992, plus a big position in News Corp., which gained 76.2% over the last year.

To win big in 1993, he bumped up his stake in Paramount to 6.46% from less than 5%. The studio’s shares have climbed as high as $ 49, up 8% from the beginning of the year, only to recede back to the mid-40s. It’s still far removed from a 1989 high of $ 66.

Crawford figures Paramount has plenty of untapped cash to either make an acquisition or do a joint venture. For example, Par chairman Martin Davis has already been rumored to be talking to Ted Turner.

Also supporting this thesis is New York’s Carret & Co., which recently took a large position in Paramount.

The general belief that there is a convergence of the entertainment and cable industry appears to be gaining ground. The studios, said Crawford, will likely provide programming to the cable operators.

Another trend investors discern is the coming merger of cable and telephone services.

“There’s going to be a merger over the next five years,” said Deborah Wheeler , fund manager for Fidelity Investment’s Select Leisure Fund. “I have absolutely no idea which industry will be the winner, but I’m trying to own the companies on the bottoms-up basis that will do well. Cable companies that are strategically positioned, as well as the regional Bell operating companies.”

Wheeler points to the recent Southwestern Bell purchase of Hauser Communications’ Northern Virginia properties.

Under Wheeler, the Select Fund has placed about 27% or $ 13 million of its assets in cable and studio stocks.

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