Media Companies Suffer in Stock Market Crash

Analysts said media companies dependent on advertising are most vulnerable, and indeed CBS was hardest hit in worst one-day selloff since December 2008

Last Updated: August 9, 2011 @ 10:49 AM

The stock market tumbled dramatically on Thursday, hitting all sectors including media.

In the worst single-day selloff since December 2008, the Dow closed down 512.53 — a 4.31 percent drop. The Nasdaq was down 136.68, or 5.08 percent. The Standard & Poors 500 dropped 60.24, or 4.79 percent.

Thursday's dizzying drop was an indication that investors remain worried about the global economy and the Euro zone crisis. Compounding that, unhappiness over the resolution of the debt ceiling crisis has stoked concerns of a double-dip recession.

"The markets are down because people are looking at the U.S. as a place they don't want to invest anymore," Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, told TheWrap.

Also read: Currency Woes: Why the Weak Dollar Is Helping — and Hurting — Hollywood

Media companies were badly hit.

Among the biggest hit: CBS was down 2.49 points, or 9.33 percent, and Viacom was down 2.86, or 6.1 percent.

Surprisingly, Apple was one of the softest hit, declining 15.2, or 3.87 percent.

This all comes despite strong earnings from media companies such as Time Warner and Comcast. Wednesday morning, both companies not only reported increases in revenues, but exceeded analyst expectations.

And Thursday morning, Discovery Communications reported an 11 percent jump in revenues and a $1 billion stock buyback. It dropped 3.77 percent.

Also read: Stock Market Plunge Puts Hollywood on Edge

Investor anxiety was so pronounced Thursday that they appeared indifferent to leading indicators such as bullish upfront sales — a record $9.2 billion for the Big 5 networks in June.

"There are concerns that spending in ad-driven companies may not be as secure as we'd like it to be, and it's making (the upfronts) extraneous," Marla Backer, a media analyst with Hudson Square Research, told TheWrap.

Tony Wible, a media analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott, said investors were responding to a series of negative indicators, including a downbeat GDP report, poor European financial numbers and what many considered an unsatisfactory resolution of the debt ceiling crisis.

"When you start to look at the remedy for the debt issue down the line, there is no way of getting out of it without hurting consumers," he said.

Analysts said that companies that depend on advertising revenues are especially vulnerable. Indeed, CBS, more closely tied to ad revenue than more diversified rivals, was hit hardest in the sell-off.

Wible said that companies such as Time Warner, which derive a larger percentage of revenue from subscriptions such as HBO, are less susceptible to catastrophic shocks.

With the carnage as a backdrop, Viacom is in the unenviable position of releasing its earnings report before the market opens on Friday.

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