AP News

Ahead of the Bell: AMC Networks

NEW YORK (AP) — Susquehanna reiterated its positive outlook and rating on AMC Networks, predicting that the company will reach a settlement with Dish Network Corp. before their dispute goes to trial.

Dish dropped AMC's Voom suite of channels, but AMC claims Dish violated a long-term agreement to carry them and is suing for $2.5 billion. A trial is set to start Sept. 19.

The satellite TV provider, which has 14 million subscribers, has blacked out AMC channels since July 1. It says the channels cost too much and that it would prefer to negotiate only for the flagship channel AMC, which is home to popular shows such as "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead." Dish would prefer to do without lesser-watched channels WE tv, IFC and Sundance Channel.

Vasily Karasyov said he expects the two parties to reach an agreement and for it to include the return of AMC channels to Dish's lineup.

"We readily acknowledge the higher than usual degree of uncertainty around this call," Karasyov wrote in a note to investors. "However, we think that our analysis of the situation and possible outcomes from the legal and business standpoints provide enough foundation for a 'Positive' rating at this point."

Karasyov said shares of AMC Networks Inc. could reach his $51 price target within the next 12 months if AMC gets a settlement that involves the return of its channels to Dish. He also predicted that investors will become more positive toward the stock as the second anniversary of AMC's spin off from Cablevision Systems Corp. approaches, which is the point at which spun-off companies can be sold.

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