Weekly Media Stocks Roundup: Washington Post Leads the Group Higher

Shares in media companies ended the week with solid gains as the broader market continued higher. The S&P 500 marked another week of gains, finishing up 1.4% over the past five days.

Apple’s iPad tablet — a new opportunity for publishers to distribute digital content, often in subscription form — had a strong week, during which at least 450,000 of the mobile devices flew off shelves following their introduction Saturday. Analysts expect sales to clock in at somewhere around a million units by the end of June.

On the print side, the Publishers Information Bureau reported that first-quarter magazine ad revenue dropped 3.9% from the year-ago period. Ad pages fell 9.4%.

Shares of The Washington Post Co. spiked Monday following publication of a Barron’s article saying the stock could go to $900. The stock rocketed higher, finishing the week up 11% at $492.

Weekly stock results for The New York Times, News Corp., McClatchy and more after the jump.

Investor enthusiasm wasn’t limited to the Washington Post; a rising tide lifted shares in many media companies higher.

News Corp. rose 4.3% to end at $15.22. Speaking in Washington, DC, CEO Rupert Murdoch said this week that he would work to “stop people like Google or Microsoft or whoever from taking stories for nothing.” He also said that The New York Times is too soft on the Obama administration.

As for the company’s broadcast segment, reports indicated News Corp. is in the process of selling some of its radio stations.

The company also made headlines for unveiling a new premium service for The Wall Street Journal, and reports indicated that the Journal was cutting subscription rates as its battle with The New York Times intensifies.

Shares of The New York Times spiked 3.1% Friday on little news. Over the week, the stock gained 6.1% to end at $11.75. On Monday, executive editor Bill Keller said the paper was preparing for battle with the Journal by adding to its coverage of New York prep schools.

Time Inc. parent Time Warner saw shares rise 3.9% to $32.63 as reports continued to trickle in about its potential purchase of movie maker MGM Studios.

This week, alleged content farm Demand Media struck a deal with USA Today to syndicate its content on the newspaper’s Web site. Shares of the paper’s publisher, Gannett, added 2% to $17.79.

Media General announced plans to consolidate the copy editing and layout work at three of its newspapers. Shares rocketed 14% higher to end the week at $9.66.

In other media company news, Tribune Co., which is not listed on an exchange, announced a plan to emerge from a 16-month-long bankruptcy. The Chicago Tribune, which Tribune Co. owns, raised the possibility that several creditors would object to the mooted resolution.