Media Stocks Spike, Credit Solid, Strong Fall Ad Revs

StocksSince the start of the fall TV season, a key Wall Street stock market index of publicly traded media companies has seen a 14% rise.

The Dow Jones U.S. Broadcasting & Entertainment Index hit 475.65 in midday trading on Nov. 11. That's 13.9% higher than the first week of the new TV broadcast season -- starting the week of Sept. 19 -- when the index was at around 417.

On Friday, the index was up more the 3.2% versus Thursday on improving news concerning Italy's debt crisis. This was better than Friday's 2.3% midday gain by the Dow Jones Industrial Index which added on 270 points to 12,170 in midday trading.

The index's current number is also 20.2% more than its bottom in the first week of October, where it was 395.85, sinking to its 52-week low caused in large part by greater problems surrounding the European debt crisis, particularly those related to Greece.

Good news for big media stocks on Friday, Nov. 11 -- especially for stocks like Walt Disney, which produced strong fiscal fourth-quarter results the day before. It was up 6.6% with the price at $36.93. Other gainers: CBS was up 5% to $26.21; Viacom grew 5.2% to $54.51; News Corp. added 2.7% to $17.72; and Comcast improved 1.5% to $22.49.

Virtually all media company stocks still report strong fall ad revenue results for their national TV networks. But Walt Disney's president and CEO Bob Iger noted, after a call with analysts, a softening in ad revenues in recent weeks.

Some of these positive stock market results still run counter to key viewership measures for those media companies' broadcasting assets -- as virtually all broadcast ratings are lower than a year ago.

Media companies claim to be making up ground in other areas for their TV operations -- retrans fees from cable operators, digital revenues, international program license fees, as well as higher overall advertising rates -- the price per thousand viewers to advertisers.

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