NEW YORK — The cable biz got a nice Valentine’s kiss from two of the world’s most famous investors as Warren Buffett, aka the Oracle of Omaha, doubled down on Comcast and George Soros snapped up Time Warner stock.
The duo’s moves affirm what many are calling a rebound in the cable sector after months in the doghouse as Wall Street fretted over competition from satellite and telco rivals.
But satcasters’ subscriber growth has moderated, while telcos haven’t yet debuted viable new products in multichannel video and don’t seem to be the immediate threat envisioned by some.
Furthermore, the biggest players in telecom may well be distracted for some time by a wave of headline-grabbing mega-mergers in the sector. In the past three months alone, MCI inked a deal with Verizon, AT&T with SBC and Nextel with Sprint.
Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway doubled its Comcast stake to 10 million shares in the fourth quarter, an investment valued at $328 million at year’s end. The news, culled from an SEC filing, buoyed Comcast shares by a hefty 3.48% to $32.40.
Meanwhile, in its own SEC filing, Soros Fund Management said that it purchased 2.6 million Time Warner shares last quarter valued at just over $50 million.
Time Warner stock rose 1.29% to $18.08.
The famed moneymen were clearly smart buyers — they both weighed in shortly after both stocks hit 52-week lows around August. Comcast is up 23% since then, Time Warner nearly 19%.
Tuesday’s vote of confidence in cable spread the goodwill. Cablevision shares rose 1.11% to close at $27.36. Smaller Insight Communications rose 0.50% to $10.50.
Separately, stock of Paul Allen’s troubled Charter Communications drooped 1.74% to $1.69.