Stocks Tank, Wiping Out 2011 Gains

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A two-day market meltdown last week
nearly erased more than six months of gains in the cable sector,
with many programmers and distributors alike finishing
below their January opening prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average weathered some of its
worst days last week, losing 265 points on Aug. 2 and plunging
512 points on Aug. 4, its largest single-day collapse since 2008.

Cable stocks, up more than 22% in the first half of the year,
gave most of that back last Thursday.

Of the publicly traded MSOs, only Charter Communications
and Time Warner Cable finished that day ahead of their
Dec. 31 close. Charter closed at $41.38 on Aug. 4, down 5% for
the day but ahead of its $38.94 close on Dec. 31. Time Warner
Cable squeaked by, closing at $67.09 on Aug.4, down 3.4% for
the day but just ahead of its Dec. 31 close of $66.03.

The rest of the sector fared worse. Comcast, up more than
15% for the year on June 30, gave that all back on Aug. 4, closing
at $21.80, down 4.3% for the day and just below its $21.97
close on Dec. 31.

Cablevision Systems, up more than 6% in the fi rst half, fi nished
at $21.80 on Aug. 4, down 5.6% for the day ad off 10.4%
from its Dec. 31 close of $24.53.

The sector did manage to stay positive for the year: As of
Aug. 4, it was up about 3%.

Programming stocks also felt the pain, with all but Viacom
fi nishing below their Dec. 31 closes. Year to date,
the sector was down 6.4%, erasing a 14% first half gain.

Viacom finished Aug. 4 at $51.35, a 3.5% drop from
the previous day by 12% ahead of its Dec. 31 close of
$45.86. Biggest losers in the programming sector included
Scripps Networks, down 29% for the year; Discovery
Communications, down 12% for the year and News Corp.
down 8.4% for the year.

The overall stock market continued its turbulent ways last
Friday – the Dow was down more than 200 points in early
trading Aug.5, rallying to a 171-point gain by the afternoon
and closed up 61 points. Cable stocks also managed to
show some gains — Time Warner Cable and Comcast were
up slightly at the close — signaling that some investors saw
the nosedive as a buying opportunity.