EchoStar's Shares Got Crushed: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of satellite broadcasting services expert EchoStar (NAS: SATS) fell to earth today, losing as much as 10.3% of their value on modest trading volume.

So what: EchoStar and sister company DISH Network (NAS: DISH) both reported disappointing third-quarter results today as subscribers are fleeing the end-user service on which they both depend. However, Dish gets a price jump instead of a drop thanks to a special dividend of $2 per share; EchoStar didn't declare any game-changing payouts.

Now what: EchoStar is a pretty reliable cash machine, albeit one with large capital expenses to launch new satellites and stock up on set-top box inventories. But, I still wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a huge dividend from this half of the Dish-EchoStar partnership, because the rising cash pile is balanced against an even larger debt load. If I were a shareholder, I'd rather see that capital structure rebalanced to a more comfortable debt level before getting into any fancy dividend plays.

If it's large and dependable yields you're after, you'd do much better in the neighboring telecom sector where you'll find top payers such as Frontier Communications (NYS: FTR) and CenturyLink (NYS: CTL) . The satellite game is supposedly more of a growth story, but even that thesis is hard to swallow when subscriber counts are going down.

Interested in more info about EchoStar? Click here to add it to My Watchlist.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. We have a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.