Showbiz fare lags behind Street


There has been giddiness on Wall Street, though not so much for investors in media stocks.

On Friday, the Dow industrials set a record for the third consecutive day, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq each reached six-year highs.

The Dow is 4% higher so far this year, while the Nasdaq is up 4.6% and the S&P is up 4.7%.

But The Hollywood Reporter Showbiz 50 is just 1.5% higher.

There are a few standouts, of course: Imax shares finally finished falling sometime last year and are up 33.5% this year.

EchoStar Communications and TiVo are up 23.2% and 27.9%, respectively. The two companies are locked in a long-winded patent infringement lawsuit that could have sweeping implications for TiVo and the DVR industry at large.

And Blockbuster has emerged a champion so far this year, with investors confident that consumers like the idea of subscribing to DVDs by mail but also having the option to visit a real store once in a while at no additional fee. Shares of Blockbuster are up 17.4% this year, while competitors Movie Gallery and Netflix are off 4.8% and 14.5%, respectively.

Trends are small but discernible. There's a total lack of interest in satellite radio, for example, but pockets of strength in movie exhibition and video games.

Sirius Satellite Radio shares are off 15.8% and XM shares are down 20.1%, reflecting doubt that government regulators will allow the two to merge.

Shares of Activision, home to the "Shrek," "Spider-Man" and "Guitar Hero" franchises, are up 19.2%, outpacing shares of he biggest video game company, Electronic Arts, which has risen 2.9% this year.

Regal Entertainment, the giant of the movie theater chains, has seen its shares rise slightly this year, but shares of much smaller Carmike Cinemas are up 29%. And shares of National CineMedia, which places advertising on movie screens and in theater lobbies, have risen 28% since the company went public in February.

Competition has taken its toll on a few companies. Yahoo! Inc. shares are off 7.5% but Google shares are up 4.8%; and EchoStar is a high-flier but DirecTV is down 3.4%.

Among the big media companies, Sony is tops, with a stock that his risen 27.9%. News Corp. is next at 12.1% and Time Warner is at the other end, with a stock that has lost 4.6%.

Disney has risen 2.9% so far this year, CBS 2.5% and Viacom 2.1%. Liberty Media, which owns pieces of lots of media companies, including News Corp. and Time Warner, has seen its stock rise 9.8% this year.

Investors have so far warmed to Marvel Entertainment's foray into the movie studio business, and its shares are 11.5% higher this year.

Lionsgate Entertainment shares are up 10.3% but DreamWorks Animation hasn't budged this year.