Investors are still celebrating the new year after lawmakers in Washington agreed to deficit reduction legislation that will derail a package of spending cuts and tax increases that many economists say could have triggered another recession. Media stocks are largely up today, with Lionsgate hitting an all-time high, and conglomerates including CBS, News Corp and Time Warner touching 52-week highs. The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index is +2.7% in early afternoon trading, ahead of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard and Poor’s 500, which are both +1.7%. Viacom (+5.7%) is a standout among the leading Big Media companies. The increase follows a report this morning from Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett who says that the entertainment company “should benefit from a sentiment swing” as ratings stabilize at networks including Nickelodeon and MTV. Following Viacom among the industry leaders: News Corp (+3.7%), Time Warner (+3.0%), CBS (+2.8%), Comcast (+2.5%), Discovery (+2.6%), Sony (+2.3%), and Disney (+2.0%). Other big gainers today include LIN TV (+7.2%), National CineMedia (+6.4%), and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (+6.1%).
Lionsgate — which was +97.1% in 2012 — is +3.1% to $16.91 but touched $17.09 earlier, topping its previous all-time high of $16.95 that it hit November 29. The rise follows B. Riley Caris analyst David Miller’s decision this morning to raise his target price to $21 from $18. One reason: After looking at overseas book sales for The Hunger Games trilogy, he’s optimistic that the next two films “will perform much better” than the first one last year. A handful of companies are trading down today including Cinedigm (-6.2%), Barnes & Noble (-3.8%), and DreamWorks Animation (-2.1%).