Weekly Media Stocks Roundup: A Big, Glitchy Rally

wall_street_cover03262010.jpgFor the most part, shares in media companies had a solid go of it in this holiday-shortened week, as the broader market also logged gains. Over the past four days, the S&P 500 added 5.3% to 1078. The exchanges were closed on July 5 in honor of our nation’s independence.

Rumor, speculation and errant bids continued to raise concerns on trading floors. In a move reminiscent of the “flash crash” of May 6, the New York Stock Exchange halted trading in shares of Anadarko Petroleum after an apparent glitch valued Anadarko’s shares at a ridiculous $99,999.99. Shares of Anadarko have typically traded between $35 and $46 over the past month.

This is getting to be a recurring problem. Anadarko’s wild ride was reminiscent of a false-alarm doubling in the value of shares in The Washington Post Co. a couple weeks ago.

Speaking of the Post Co., a political opponent of Jane Harman, wife of stereo magnate and Newsweek bidder Sidney Harman, published an open letter to Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham saying that a sale of the magazine to Harman might undermine its political independence. Shares in The Washington Post Co. added 5.2% on the week to end at $429.35.

Elsewhere, Madison Square Garden’s (MSG) stock got goosed Wednesday then fell Thursday. Investors had apparently speculated that basketball player LeBron James might choose to play for the New York Knicks and then sold the stock in disappointment when he decided on the Miami Heat instead. That disappointment helped to leave MSG shares down 2.9% on the week at $19.44.

We began to suspect it was a slow news week for The New York Times Co. (NYT) when the company issued a press release titled “New York Times Business Section Continues to Break Vital Corporate and Financial News; Must-Read for C-Suite Executives.” (As one commenter put it, “That press release title has a strangely North Korean vibe to it.”) No news was good news, apparently; shares rose 6% to $9.01.

Time Warner (TWX — by the way, did you know Time Warner owns celebrity gossip site The Frisky?) stock got a reaffirmed endorsement from analysts at Credit Suisse. Citing expected ad-sales improvements, Credit Suisse increased its earnings-per-share estimates for the company and reiterated an outperform rating on the stock with a price target of $37. The company also this week priced a $3 billion debt offering. “The net proceeds from the issuance of the notes and debentures will be used to retire existing indebtedness and for general corporate purposes. The sale of the notes and debentures is expected to close on July 14, 2010,” the company said. Shares jupmed 7.1% to end at $30.19.

Weekly stock results for Gannett, News Corp. and more after the jump.


USA Today publisher Gannett (GCI), which is scheduled to report quarterly earnings next Friday, saw shares rocket 13% on the week to $14.44 as analysts at Zacks Investment Research predicted that improvements in the advertising market would help the company.

News Corp. (NWS), which publishes The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post — and does many other things — this week said that it is not holding talks to sell MySpace and added that the company is planning a relaunch of the site later this year. Shares blasted 7.1% higher to $14.44.

Aol (AOL) this week launched an open-source mapping platform to supplement hyperlocal coverage by its Patch initiative. The stock lost less than 1% on the week to end at $20.28.

More media stock results:

Meredith Corp. (MDP): up 2.7% at $31.70

• Media General (MEG): up 2.1% at $9.36

• A. H. Belo (AHC): up 7.3% at $6.77