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CBS Corp.'s Stock Gain at Mid-Year Mark Narrowly Edges Out Netflix

All big entertainment stocks, except for Sony Corp., rose during the first half of 2011.

NEW YORK - All big entertainment stocks, except for earthquake- and hacker-affected Sony Corp., rose over the first half of the year, which ended Thursday.

Led by a nearly 50 percent gain at CBS Corp., most sector conglomerates outperformed the broad-based S&P 500 stock index as of the mid-year mark as the opening half of 2011 saw a further run-up amid continued advertising gains and despite a recent return of concerns about the economic outlook. The gains came on top of gains in 2010 and even 2009 for many big Hollywood names.

Sony Corp.'s American depositary shares are down 26.1 percent year-to-date, closing Thursday at $26.39.

Walt Disney's 4.1 percent gain came in just below the S&P 500's improvement of 5 percent, but it remains the Hollywood giant with the biggest market value. After Thursday's market close, it stood at $73.8 billion.

The stocks of all other entertainment conglomerates finished the first half of 2011 well ahead of the broad index.

Sumner Redstone-controlled CBS Corp. and Viacom led the charge among big entertainment stocks with gains of 49.6 percent to $28.49 and 28.8 percent to $51, respectively. CBS shares even hit a 52-week high of $29.13 earlier in Thursday's trading session. Its 52-week low of $12.26 came on July 1 of last year.

Continued advertising revenue growth and new revenue from digital distributors, such as Netflix, have given investors added confidence in sector giants.

Speaking of Netflix: after its stock gains in 2010 beat out those of entertainment conglomerates and its shares were ahead for most of the year-to-date, the growth of CBS narrowly edged out the online video streaming firm as of mid-year. Netflix shares closed Thursday at $262.69, up 49.5 percent year-to-date.

News Corp. shares gained 21.6 percent in the first half amid a recent growth spurt driven by its sale of MySpace and impending acquisition of U.K. satellite TV provider BSkyB.

Time Warner's stock rose 13.1 percent over the first half of the year to close Thursday at $36.37.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai