Media stocks on the move Tuesday

ComScore down; Blockbuster, Marvel finish up

You wouldn't know it from the lackluster movement on the general indexes, but media shares were rocking and rolling Tuesday.

ComScore rolled over big time, dropping 22.5% to $21.45 on Tuesday as Google unveiled a new Web tool that investors think will encroach on one of ComScore's businesses.

Google's Ad Planner, though, is available for free only on a limited basis, and while it helps advertisers and agencies better understand the demographics of an online audience, it doesn't offer as many details as ComScore's products.

Nevertheless, when Google enters a market, investors in competing companies take notice, hence the $6.24 drop Tuesday for ComScore.

Rising 4% was Blockbuster, as rumors surfaced that its offer to purchase Circuit City is going nowhere fast.

Investors never liked the idea, which is why Blockbuster shares sank when it announced its interest in buying the electronics retailer.

Circuit City in fact held its annual shareholders' meeting Tuesday, when large stockholder Mark Wattles predicted that Circuit City will be acquired in the next 30 days but that Blockbuster could easily be outbid by several private-equity groups.

Shares of Blockbuster closed at $2.62 on Tuesday.

Marvel climbed 4.6% higher to $34.68 after RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank upgraded shares to "outperform," in part because "The Incredible Hulk" is more successful than some had predicted it would be.

Bank lifted his target price from $37 to $43.

Viacom was up 3.4% to $31.20 Tuesday even after Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce reduced his target price on the stock from a $42-$48 range to $39.

"There could be some downside risk when they report if international ad sales cannot make up for the weakness domestically disclosed last month," Joyce said.

He also is concerned about the Paramount studio business because of the likelihood that DreamWorks will leave for greener pastures.

"At risk would be a quality production pipeline that could take a few years to rebuild as well as distribution fees from non-owned film releases in the future."

News Corp. was a penny lower Tuesday at $16.52, though Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield reiterated his "buy" recommendation and $27 price target.

"News Corp's. strategy of continuing to invest in new businesses, rather than maximizing near-term profitability, continues to provide growth opportunities," he said.

Shares of Yahoo also were on the rise, gaining 2.8% to $22.04 as rumors circulated that Microsoft might still purchase the company, even if it means Yahoo would have to accept a bid lower than the $33-per-share it has already refused.

chartTiVo shares lost more ground on Tuesday, down 3.6% to $6.50, which suits Kaufman Bros. analyst Todd Mitchell just fine: He issued a note saying "the recent sell-off in shares of TiVo creates an opportunity."

The analyst said TiVo shares -- prior to Tuesday -- were already off 20% in June alone as investors got frustrated with yet another delay, this time to Sept. 4, in the next stage of TiVo's ongoing legal battle with Dish.

Mitchell says that TiVo will probably get a settlement by year's end from Dish somewhere between $105 million and $355 million, thus his price target of $12 for TiVo.

And the hits kept on coming Tuesday for Sirius and XM, each of which hit another 52-week low as investors seem increasingly uninterested in whether they'll be allowed to merge. Even if they are, the concessions they'd be forced into and the mounting competition from various digital music services would make it a less bullish event now than it was 17 months ago when they announced their merger plans.

Sirius shares lost 3.6% Tuesday to $1.86, and XM shares were down 4.1% to $7.78.

And Warner Music Group continued an ascent that began almost inexplicably three months ago. The stock gained 6.4% Tuesday to $8.04 and was the best performer on The Hollywood Reporter Showbiz 50 index.

The Dow Jones, Nasdaq and Showbiz 50 were each down fractionally Tuesday.
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