Bull day for media's bear market

Showbiz 50's losses outpace Dow, Nasdaq, S&P in '08

It was more of the same for media stocks Wednesday as they rose during the session's healthy rally but again underperformed broader markets.

While the S&P 500 on Wednesday surged 2.3%, The Hollywood Reporter Showbiz 50 stock index rose 2.2%.

With just six stocks down on the day, the Showbiz 50 managed to outpace the 2.1% gain on the Dow Jones but fell short of the Nasdaq's 2.8% rise.

The entertainment stock index, struggling all year on worries that an economic downturn will eventually weigh heavily on advertising, remains 15.9% off year-to-date, lagging the S&P 500 (off 7.1%), the Dow (down 4.9%) and the Nasdaq (off 11.4%).

Wednesday's rally was sparked by better-than-expected earnings reports from bellwether tech company Intel as well as from financial concerns JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. The gains came despite so-called Beige Book data released Wednesday that indicated "weaker economic conditions" in real estate and consumer spending.

Leading the Showbiz 50 on Wednesday were a couple of stocks that have been performing well much of the year: Netflix and Warner Music Group. The former was up 6.8% on Wednesday and is 46.4% higher this year, while the latter was up 8%, leaving it 20.1% higher in 2008.

Netflix was boosted a day after Jefferies & Co. analyst Youssef Squali told clients that it was poised to benefit from rival Blockbuster's intended takeover of Circuit City. He even posited that Blockbuster could eventually sell its DVD-by-mail service to Netflix.

Meanwhile, Jefferies & Co. analyst Daniel Binder said Wednesday that he doubts that Blockbuster's purchase of Circuit City for up to $1.3 billion will happen.

Among the conglomerates Wednesday, Sony fared best, rising 5.1%, but the stock is down 22.9% this year. Viacom was the laggard, rising fractionally, and its stock is down 10.4% this year.