Turns out content was king during the first half of 2011, as CBS (NYSE: CBS), Comcast/NBCU (NSDQ: CMCSA), and News Corp (NSDQ: NWS) posted strong stock gains. Tech giants Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) struggled, meanwhile, as social media hot-shots Facebook and Twitter saw their valuations skyrocket and upstarts like LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD), Groupon and Zynga went public, or prepared to do so. Top performers included upstart streaming service Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) and Apple.
Apple: Apple continues to ride high thanks to red-hot sales of its iPad tablet and iPhone, which became available on Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), the largest mobile provider in the country, in January.
AOL: AOL (NYSE: AOL) remains a turnaround story following its $315 million purchase of the Huffington Post. Although the company enjoys huge web traffic, it still derives much of its revenue from its dying internet access subscription business.
Comcast: The company has every reason to gloat heading into the second half of 2011. Less than a decade ago, Comcast was a regional cable operator. Today, it’s the nation’s largest cable operator.
Walt Disney: The parent of ABC (NYSE: DIS), ESPN and its eponymous move studio, had a lackluster first half of the year, punctuated by a May earnings report that fell short of Wall Street expectations.
Google: What’s got Google so down? The search giant’s stock price fell nearly ten percent in the first half of 2011. Google’s growth-rate has slowed in recent years from the torrid 60 percent growth it enjoyed just a few years ago.
Microsoft: If Google has a case of ennui, Microsoft is downright depressed. The Redmond, Washington-based software giant has fallen behind in just about every area beyond its core consumer and enterprise software businesses.
Netflix: Netflix, on the other hand, is the toast of Wall Street, up 65 percent so far this year. It’s no exaggeration to say that the streaming video company is in the process of dramatically disrupting the industry’s existing video distribution model.
New York Times: Nine years ago this summer, The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) stock traded at over $50 per share. The publisher of the “Gray Lady” hasn’t seen levels anywhere close for years (the stock currently trades below $9.)
News Corp.: News Corp., the owner of The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and the New York Post, saw its stock gain nearly ten percent in the first half of 2011. The 20th Century Fox movie studio remains a powerhouse, despite the lack of an Avatar-like phenomenon.
Time Warner: Slimmed-down media conglomerate Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), which owns HBO, CNN and Warner Bros., had a solid first half of the year, driven by the strong performance of its television business.
Viacom: Entertainment giant Viacom (NYSE: VIA) had a standout first half of 2011 compared to most of its rivals, which propelled the company’s stock price up nearly 30 percent.
Yahoo: Beleaguered internet portal Yahoo just can’t win for losing. The onetime web pioneer has steadily lost its luster over the last decade as Google has assumed dominance of the web search market.
Year-to-date figures are as of July 7, 2011