Not even Batman can save Time Warner stock

Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:19am EDT
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By Paul Bond

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "The Dark Knight" has taken in $324.3 million at the North American box office so far and is on its way to becoming one of the biggest movies of all time.

Way to go, Warner Bros. It's already the studio's biggest film ever, surpassing the $318 million earned domestically by 2001's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

Now, if only some smart executive could figure out a way for Time Warner shareholders to benefit from all that success.

The stock of Time Warner, the movie studio's parent company, has languished for years, and even a box office superhero like Batman hasn't come to shareholders' rescue. Not yet, at least.

Shares of TW were at $14.70 on July 18, the opening day for "Dark Knight." They closed at $14.36 the following Monday, after the movie shattered the opening-weekend box office record. On Tuesday, the stock traded at $14.57.

For those optimistic shareholders who figure it must be a case of buying the rumor (or in this case, the hype) and selling the news (in this case, the weekend record), that's just wishful thinking.

Check a TW chart leading up to the film's record-breaking performance, and it's all downhill.

One could argue that the "Dark Knight" hype began January 22, the date of the untimely death of Heath Ledger, the actor who plays the Joker. On that day, TW was at $15.06, higher than where it closed Tuesday. And if you figure the hype didn't really kick into overdrive until the first day of summer, well, the stock has dropped since then, too. Actually, one almost could pick any random day this year and the stock is lower now than it was then.   Continued...

<p>Actor Christian Bale as Batman is shown in a scene from director Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters July 18, 2008. REUTERS/Warner Bros. Pictures/Handout</p>