Investor fears about the shaky banking system outweighed the
optimism surrounding Tuesday's Presidential inauguration, as the Dow Jones
Industrial Average sank more than 330 points, dragging cable stocks and just
about every other sector along with it.
The Dow finished the day at 7,949.09, down 332.13 points.
The financial sector was hit hardest, with shares of Bank of America dipping
29%, followed by J.P. Morgan Chase (down 21%) and Citigroup (down 20%).
Setting the stage for the market decline was a warning by Boston banker State Street
Corp. of growing problems with more than $23 billion in off-balance sheet
assets and the announcement by the British government that it would expand its
financial rescue plan. That sent a signal to investors that more government
intervention may be needed in the U.S.
On the cable side, Charter
Communications was the biggest percentage loser, dropping 17.4% (2 cents each)
to 10 cents per share, after a Bloomberg
report said the St. Louis-based MSO had hired a law firm to possibly
investigate filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy speculation
has surrounded the company ever since it announced in December that it had
asked its adviser, Lazard LLC, to initiate restructuring talks with its
Charter declined to comment.
Charter was followed by Mediacom Communications, down 46
cents (9.4%) to $4.45; Comcast, down $1.31 (8.6%) to $14.02; Cablevision
Systems, down $1.50 each (8.4%) to $16.31; and Time Warner Cable, down $1 each
(5.3%) to $17.77 per share.
On Friday after market close, Microsoft revealed that it had
sold its 7.3% interest in Comcast over the past 12 months, which may have played a part in Tuesday's
MSO's weren't the only stocks battered-satellite TV
companies and programmers also felt the pain of the down market.
Dish Network fell hardest among satellite TV companies-it
was down 10.8% ($1.33 each) to $11.01 per share. DirecTV fell 5.7% ($1.26 to
$29.72 per share.
On the programming front, News Corp. dipped 8.8% (76 cents)
to $7.87 per share, followed by Discovery Communications, down $1.09 each
(7.4%) to $13.67; Time Warner Inc., down 67 cents (7%) to $8.94; and Viacom,
down $1.01 each (5.7%) to $16.67 per
share. Disney, which closed down $1.22 each (5.7%) to $20.24 and Scripps
Networks Interactive, down $1.09 each (4.8%) to $21.45 per share, rounded out