Why Time Warner Cable, Inc. Slipped This Morning

While Fools should generally take the opinion of Wall Street with a grain of salt, it's not a bad idea to take a look at particularly stock-shaking analyst upgrades and downgrades -- just in case their reasoning behind the call makes sense.

What: Shares of Time Warner Cable, Inc.  (NYSE: TWC  ) slipped 1% this morning after Needham & Company downgraded the cable giant from buy to hold.

So what: Along with the downgrade, analyst Laura Martin maintained her price target of $135, almost exactly where the stock closed on Friday. While enterprising traders might be attracted to the buyout buzz surrounding Time Warner of late, Martin believes that the risk/reward trade-off at this point is pretty balanced.

Now what: Needham doesn't expect Time Warner's business to improve anytime soon, lowering its Q4 subscriber and profit estimates for the company. "TWC is currently trading at a forward year (2014E) P/E of 18x, $5,700 per basic video subscriber, and $2,224 per RGU (revenue generating unit)," noted Martin. "Having reached our target price, and with a large gap between the bid and ask of a potential take-over, we prefer to move to the sidelines until it becomes clear whether TWC will be successfully acquired." When you couple Time Warner's worrisome operating trends with its red-hot stock price, it's tough to disagree with Needham's cautious stance.

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