Commentary

Media Stocks Love Joe Biden. Will He Love Them Back?

Here’s a President Biden-related headline from his inauguration day: “Best stock-market rally from election to inauguration day in history”, according to a blaring Marketwatch topper.

Here’s another: “The stock market loves the idea of the Biden Presidency” on Quartz, an international business-focused news organization.

All major stock market indexes, from Election Day in November to the Biden inauguration this week, have showed double-digit percentage gains: The Dow Jones Industrials, 13% more to 31,188.38; S&P 500 index is up 14% to 3,851.85. Lastly, the tech-heavy NASDAQ index, is 21% higher to 13,457.25.

By way of comparison to President Trump's start, from Election Day in 2016 to his inauguration in January 2017 -- the S&P 500 was up 6.2%.

Why look at the markets this way?

Stock market indices, in particular, are future-looking monitors of U.S. economic growth. The actual proof, though, is in economic data, including gross domestic product, real wage growth, high employment and low unemployment data.

Concerning media and advertising, the expectation looks to be even better: The Dow Jones U.S. media index is up 27% to 1,271.79, as of January 20; the Dow Jones U.S. broadcasting & entertainment index gained 28% to 1,887.72.

And just for fun, include the NYSE FANG+ index, 25% higher to 6,693.02. This index includes Facebook, Amazon, Apple Netflix, Google, and five other actively-traded technology growth stocks: Alibaba, Baidu, NVIDIA, Tesla and Twitter.

Now, the why: The promise is that U.S. business and economic growth will recover big time. Yes, you may say, much of this has to do with the Trump Administration lowering the corporate tax rate early in his term -- which helped to produce higher earnings and revenue results. Plus, the Federal Reserve helped to keep interest rates low.

But this also comes with some expectations: Biden could bump up taxes for corporations -- but not to earlier levels. He alluded to this a few times during his campaign.

In addition, companies and investors are hopeful for more spending -- a big-time stimulus package for those unemployed U.S. workers, and especially for small- to medium-size businesses, as well as a possible major infrastructure package.

Analysts also believe a more coordinated federal pandemic-response attempt -- not just leaving it to the states -- will help end the COVID-19 crisis as well, getting the U.S. economy back on track.

Looking specifically at digital media firms, even with a number of issues -- will continue to benefit going forward. This includes digital-first media companies Facebook Google, Netflix, Amazon and the like. But other gaining companies include Roku and The Trade Desk.

Traditional media, making major pivoting moves into digital areas, have shown higher results, including Walt Disney, NBCUniversal (Comcast), Charter Communications, Discovery. and ViacomCBS. Also recent higher performing companies, TV stations groups stocks, including Sinclair Broadcast Group and Nexstar Media Group,  have been boosted since the election.

The downside? Lots of competition and some expectation of an expected fall, due to even more digital media competition.

Also, perhaps looming even larger, much anticipated regulation is headed for social media and other digital stuff for all its false, misleading, and what has turned out to be, harmful content messaging.

Media has always taken the good with the bad -- with the inevitable.

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