Now the debt ceiling has been raised, investors can get back to focusing on corporate earnings in order to drive market performance. Although the economy is still sluggish, these quarterly updates have been keeping many sectors afloat, especially in the consumer focused industries where spending is down but profits are still relatively well at many firms. One case of this is at CBS Corporation (CBS) which reported its second quarter earnings after the bell on yesterday. Net income came in at 58 cents a share, or 13 cents a share above estimates while revenues were slightly above expectations, outpacing the consensus by roughly $40 million. While this is undoubtedly encouraging for the broader media industry, a number of other reports due out today could help to set the record straight on this corner of the market, either confirming the positive trend set by CBS, or demonstrating that the broadcaster’s performance is just an aberration.
Both Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner (TWX) look to give their quarterly updates before the bell today, helping to give investors a much clearer picture of the broad media industry and its recent performance. TWX is looking to post profits of 56 cents per share on revenues of roughly $6.81 billion. The firm is more impacted by movies than many of its other peers in the space so box office trends could influence this stock more than most. With that being said, the company did call for higher Q2 earnings in its first quarter conference call, so expectations are likely to be high for the media conglomerate [see all the Consumer Discretionary Equities here].
Meanwhile, at Comcast, investors will likely focus on the firm’s integration of NBC Universal as this will be the first quarter that CMCSA has had a controlling stake in the media distributor. Additionally, investors are likely to compare Comcast’s results to Time Warner Cable, which reported last week. In that report, the company reported that it lost more subscribers than it did in the year ago period, although many analysts do not anticipate that Comcast will suffer the same fate. Nevertheless, investors will focus in on the subscriber loss figure in order to see if it is less than the losses the company saw last year in which 265,000 people canceled their Comcast service. Clearly, all three of these media giants will impacted by different market factors so many analysts will likely gauge the performance of all three in order to better ascertain how the market could perform here in the second half of the year.
Thanks to these key earnings reports, investors should look for the PowerShares Dynamic Media Fund (PBS) to remain in focus throughout today’s trading session.The company gives at least 5.2% to Comcast and Time Warner, and a similar weighting to CBS as well. As a result, PBS could be in for some significant volatility in today’s trading session as more than 15% of its underlying assets will be digesting earnings reports, helping to shift sentiment on some of the smaller names in the fund as well [see fundamentals of PBS here].
Despite the extremely weak economy and the relatively discretionary nature of the services offered by the components of PBS, the fund has managed to hold its own relatively well in 2011, gaining 3.2% since the start of the year. However, losses have begun to pile up over the last few months as the fund is now down 7.6% over the past quarter suggesting that quality earnings reports will be needed in order to turn things around for this fund. If both Comcast and Time Warner can surprise on revenues and give a decent outlook for the future, investors could see a return to strength for this fund. If, however, weak earnings hit the market and more investors fear further fiscal austerity, PBS could continue its short term trend lower and finish Wednesday trading in the red [see more charts of PBS here].
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.