What’s Behind the PowerShares Media ETF’s Comeback?

Includes: GCI, LEE, MEG, NWSA, PBS, T
by: Tom Lydon

The media suffered right along with the broader markets during the financial crisis. But the media-focused ETFs recent performance suggests that those days may be a distant memory.

1. Newspapers Are Better Off. Media was a hard-hit sector in the downturn, but has staged a comeback and is one of the top performers of the last month. PowerShares Dynamic Media ETF (NYSEARCA:PBS) is now 20% off its July 2007 high. Burt Helm for BusinessWeek reports that overall, automotive and retail TV advertising sales growth helped boost broadcasting revenue at Gannett Co. (NYSE:GCI). Excluding some items, profit doubled to 50 cents a share, beating analysts’ expectations of 41 cents per share.

Ad revenue in the publishing group, which includes USA Today and local newspapers, fell 7.9 % to $665.9 million. USA Today ad sales fell 15%, the company said. However, newspaper sales are up for March, as circulation rates are down only 7.8%.

According to Associated Press, Lee Enterprises Inc. (NYSE:LEE), Gannett Co., and Media General Inc. (NYSE:MEG), are all posting smaller drops in revenue, indicating the year is off to a good start. Decline is not expected to be drastic, which could lead to more positive sentiment for the newspaper industry.

2. Internet Ad Revenue Is Up. For the first time, more money was spent on Internet advertising than in magazines. In the same report by Zenith Optimedia, it was said that online ad spending would gain rapidly on newspapers. Globally, 12.6% of all ad spending was on the internet last year.

3. Satellite Giants Team Up. Cable television may get a boost as DirecTV (DTV) and Dish Network team up to sell interactive television advertising nationally. Such a deal would let advertisers purchase ads as long as 15 minutes on dedicated channels, says Deborah Yao for the Associated Press. This would expand their reach across the country and potentially lead to greater revenue for both networks.

  • PowerShares Dynamic Media (PBS): DirecTV is 4.6%; NewsCorp (NASDAQ:NWSA) is 5%

Disclosure: None