Media ETF buoyed by rising ad revenue

Investors looking for pure exposure to this sector should turn to one fund.

By TheStreet Staff Aug 3, 2011 1:29PM

By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

The media industry will face the spotlight this week as major players including Viacom (VIA.B), DirecTV (DTV), Time Warner (TWX) and Comcast (CMCSA) report earnings.

 

A number of consumer-focused exchange-traded funds provide investors with ample coverage of the industry. For instance, the PowerShares Dynamic Leisure & Entertainment Portfolio (PEJ) lists companies like CBS (CBS), Viacom, and Discovery Communications (DISCA) within its top 10 positions.

 

Investors looking for pure exposure to the media industry, however, should turn to the PowerShares Dynamic Media ETF (PBS).

 

PBS is designed to cast a wide net, exposing investors to the leaders in TV, newspapers, publishing and radio. This week's media-heavy earnings calendar will have an especially heavy impact on the performance of the product. The fund's top five positions are slated to release quarterly earnings and outlooks for the remainder of 2011.

 

In total, the fund's top five holdings account for more than a quarter of the fund's index.

 

Heading into the earnings flurry, forecasts for the media industry are already looking promising. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that analysts expect companies to report gains, buoyed by strength in advertising. Although fears of an economic slowdown still exist, many feel th trend that will continue.

 

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Still, despite this rosy outlook, it is hard to ignore the fact that over the past few weeks public sentiment toward big media has faced harsh criticism as hacking allegations cast a thick cloud of controversy over Rupert Murdoch's media empire, News Corp. (NWSA).

 

In the days ahead, News Corp. could feel additional pain as more is uncovered regarding its questionable acts. This may, in turn, deter some investors from considering PBS. Any direct impact from News Corp., however, will likely be contained. As I explained in this week's video, PBS is particularly well-positioned to defend against the threat of continued upheaval. Shares of NWSA account for less than 5% of the fund's index.

 

Instead, in the days ahead, I feel that earnings will play a far more significant role in directing the fund's performance.

While earnings from top media companies will make PBS an exciting fund to watch, it's not an ideal strategy for everyone.

 

On the contrary, because it is dedicated to tracking such a small segment of the market, it tends to behave in a volatile manner. Cautious investors, wary of seeing steep daily rises and falls may find a more heavily diversified option more to their liking.

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