We Americans have always loved to be entertained. What's
changed is how we get that entertainment.
In our constant search for entertainment, we're increasingly
shunning the local Cineplex, concert hall or ballpark for the
privacy of our own homes. Hence, the companies able to bring the
entertainment to us are prospering like never before.
Whether it's through a 52-inch flat-screen TV, a 23-inch
computer screen, or a 7.1-inch iPad Mini, Americans are finding
more ways of being entertained without leaving the house.
The rise of online viewing, the ever-escalating number of
cable TV options, and increasing picture quality thanks to
high-definition television have made curling up on the couch and
watching a movie, a TV show or a sporting event more appealing
than ever. Who needs the hassle of waiting in line at the movie
theater, or paying outrageous prices for tickets and beer to
watch an NFL game in 20-degree weather?
Staying home and watching things on your high-definition TV or
computer screen is the cheaper, more comfortable, less
So it's no surprise that the companies that bring us our
in-home entertainment made a killing in 2012.
Media conglomerates - diversified entertainment companies with
both a television and Internet presence - were among the
best-performing stocks in the market this year.
Here are four stocks of prominent in-home entertainment
providers that stood out most:
Market Cap: $100 billion
2012 Gains: 51%
Shares of this large-cap digital cable and high-speed Internet
provider shattered their previous high by hitting better than $37
a share this year. Earnings shot up 57% in the third quarter
(compared to the previous quarter) thanks in large part to the
company's ownership of NBCUniversal, which broadcast the
- the most-watched event in TV history. Comcast also owns Hulu, a
web site that offers on-demand streaming video of movies and TV
Time Warner Cable (
Market Cap: $28.5 billion
2012 Gains: 46%
A cable and Internet provider with a bit smaller national
reach than Comcast, Time Warner's gains were nonetheless
virtually on par with its larger rival this year. The company's
profits nearly doubled in the third quarter. Through just three
quarters, Time Warner's net income has almost surpassed last
year's total earnings.
Dish Network (
Market Cap: $17 billion
2012 Gains: 30%
A leader in satellite television, Dish has profited from being
a cheaper alternative to Comcast or Time Warner. This year's big
gains have boosted the stock to five-year highs. Take caution
with this one, however: Dish's lack of Internet presence
certainly limits its growth potential when compared to its
competitors. Dish is thriving now, but the shift toward online
viewing - there are 500,000 fewer TV households than there were a
year ago, according to Nielsen Media Research - could make this
company a dinosaur in a matter of years.
Market Cap: $5 billion
2012 Gains: 19%
Netflix was my
top stock pick for 2012
. Fortunately, the subscription video provider delivered with a
nice 19% bounce-back after a disastrous end to 2011. It did so by
steadily increasing earnings each of the last two quarters,
repairing much of the damage caused by last year's 60% price hike
and ill-advised attempt at a spinoff web site. While the
company's profits were way down year-over-year, the opportunity
for significant growth is clear as it expands into Latin America
and Europe - adding 700,000 overseas subscribers last quarter.
And as demand for streaming online video rises, Netflix is
meeting that demand. International streaming revenue is expected
to rise to $100 million this quarter.
So perhaps it's not just Americans that crave in-home
entertainment. On-demand video is a phenomenon that's sweeping
Companies able to tap into that demand - particularly those
with an overseas presence like Netflix - will have a leg up on
2012 was a great year for "in-home entertainment stocks." Next
year could be even better.
And as with most things these days, you can watch it all
unfold from the comfort of your home.