Comcast shares get downgraded due to acquisition strategy ‘uncertainty’

  • Macquarie Research lowers its rating to neutral from outperform for Comcast shares, citing concerns over the media company's bid for Sky.
  • "The addition of Sky diversifies its portfolio/doubles its scale, but exposes it to satellite TV, which faces secular pressures," Macquarie says.
  • Comcast shares declined 7 percent Tuesday after the company announced a cash offer to buy European pay-TV provider Sky for 22.1 billion pounds or $31 billion.
Comcast Corporation chairman & CEO Brian Roberts.
Jeff Chiu | AP
Comcast Corporation chairman & CEO Brian Roberts.

Comcast shares are less attractive after its big offer to buy a European pay-TV provider, according to one Wall Street firm.

Macquarie Research lowered its rating to neutral from outperform for Comcast shares, citing concerns over the media company's acquisition strategy.

Comcast shares declined 7 percent Tuesday after the company announced a cash offer to buy European pay-TV provider Sky for 22.1 billion pounds or $31 billion.

The cable company's stock rose 0.1 percent Wednesday.

"The potential to expand internationally, double its scale, and leverage cross-border [intellecutal property] is undoubtedly a great one. However, uncertainty around the M&A playbook and increased net leverage to 3x marks a shift in what would otherwise be a clean thesis," analyst Amy Yong wrote in a note to clients Wednesday. "Though the downside in CMCSA shares is limited after yesterday's move, we believe the unpredictability could cap near-term upside."

Yong reduced her price target to $42 from $47 for Comcast shares, representing 15 percent upside to Tuesday's close.

The analyst said the Comcast's bid for Sky is expensive given the competitive pressures on the satellite television market. She prefers the company instead to use any funds to buy back its own shares.

"The addition of Sky diversifies its portfolio/doubles its scale, but exposes it to satellite TV, which faces secular pressures," she wrote. "For one, Comcast could buy back its own stock at 8x vs acquiring Sky at 12x; although the deal is expected to be accretive in Y1, we question the synergies given the cross border combination."

Comcast did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

— CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this story.

Disclosure: Comcast owns CNBC parent NBCUniversal.