Media stocks should pick up the pace in 2006, many Wall Street analysts said. Considering their performance in 2005, though, it is an easy comparison.
Of the major entertainment conglomerates, only Sony Corp. is up for the year. The others have not only fallen but also underperformed — by a large margin — the broader indexes.
Shares of the Walt Disney Co., Viacom Inc. and News Corp. are suffering more than 10% drops for the year, while Time Warner Inc. is off 9.6%. The Dow Jones industrial average is about flat.
General Electric Co. is down just 1%, though many analysts agree that the parent of NBC Universal does not usually trade like a media stock because the company has so many moving parts.
Analyst Michael Kupinski of A.G. Edwards & Sons said he expects some of the worst media stocks of 2005 to rebound significantly next year, including shares of companies facing some of the stiffest competition.
Radio behemoth Clear Channel Communications, for example, has been abandoned by many on Wall Street who fear the threat from Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio.
“The radio industry is poised for an upswing, especially in the back half of next year,” he said.
He added that Sirius and XM will experience a deceleration in growth and that deceleration will lead to “increased interest in terrestrial radio.”
He also predicts that Wall Street’s attention will shift from growth stocks to larger, defensive plays next year and that will benefit companies like Comcast Corp., “which trades for a low multiple and is throwing off a lot of cash flow.”
Among the big conglomerates, he likes Time Warner the best, where a sum of the parts analysis suggests a stock price of $27.50. Shares of TW traded at $17.48 on Thursday.