Cable stocks rule S&P

Comcast leads composite with boost from Olympics coverage

The year just ended was a good one for stocks, and an even better one for showbiz equities. Standard & Poor’s Composite 1500 index, a measure of large-, mid- and small-capitalization stocks, showed a price gain of 13.7% for 2012. Most of the S&P showbiz stocks did better.

Comcast Corp. led biz stocks in the index, with a gain of 57.6%. Always a steady performer in cable, the company surged on good ratings at NBC for the London Olympics, “The Voice” and more.

Close behind was Discovery Communications with a 54.9% advance. Owner of more than 150 nonfiction networks — including Animal Planet, History and TLC — Discovery gets about 20% of its revenues from fast-growing foreign markets.

In third place was Time Warner Cable with a 52.9% increase for the year. Gains in high-speed data service for homes and businesses helped drive profits. Data service also has the benefit of being free from payments to content providers.

Concert and ticket colossus Live Nation was the third-worst biz stock in the index, but trailed the benchmark only slightly with a gain of 12%. Cablevision Systems, meanwhile, rose only 5.1% as the company faced higher operating costs and a one-time charge that led to a third-quarter loss. DreamWorks Animation lost 0.2%, as “Rise of the Guardians” disappointed at the box office.