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Earnings Preview: Media Giants in the Spotlight

The Comcast Center building, which houses Comcast headquarters, in Philadelphia.
Bradly C. Bower | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Comcast Center building, which houses Comcast headquarters, in Philadelphia.

We're heading into the end of the heavy period of earnings season: Next week just over a quarter of the S&P 500 is set to report. But we'll only hear from two Dow components—Pfizer and Merck, which report before the bell Tuesday and Wednesday. Merck's EPS are projected to drop 20 percent to 79 cents, on 5 percent lower revenue of $11.1 billion, while Pfizer is also projected to suffer, EPS looking at a 4 percent decline to 56 cents while revenue drops 6 percent to $13.99 billion.

Media companies are out in force mid-week, starting after the bell Tuesday. DreamWorks Animation reports Tuesday afternoon, as does Barry Diller's IAC, though the Internet conglomerate conference call isn't until Wednesday morning. It'll be a rough quarter for Dreamworks Animation—the studio is expected to show a 27 percent decline in revenue while earnings are projected to swing to a loss of 3 cents per share. IAC looks stronger: Wall Street analysts expecting Earnings per share to grow 35 percent to 69 cents while they see revenue growing 18 percent to $757 million, according to Thomson Analytics.

Wednesday it's a crush of media giants: Comcast, Time Warner, and Viacom all report before the bell, and they're all on track to post gains. Comcast, which owns both media and distribution, is expected to grow EPS 11 percent and revenue 4 percent, while Time Warner Shares are projected to grow EPS 11 percent and revenue 2 percent. Then after the bell TV behemoth CBS is expected to report 3 percent revenue growth to $4 billion, and 26 percent gains in EPS to 68 cents.

All eyes will be on Facebook's first quarter numbers Wednesday, with its mobile business in the spotlight. Revenue is projected to grow 36 percent from a year ago to $1.44 billion, with earnings of 12 cents per share. Analysts will be focused on any insight the company gives into its mobile growth, and making more money from its International users, as well as from new businesses like search and retail.

Two big automakers report: Chrysler's numbers will be out Monday as part of parent companyFiat's earnings release. Then General Motors is out Thursday morning; its revenue is projected to decline 3 percent while earnings per share plummets 42 percent from a year ago.

A number of big financial firms are also weighing in: Hartford Financial is out Monday, then on Tuesday from Western Union and NYSE Euronext, which is projected to grow revenue 1 percent and EPS 19 percent. Thursday we hear from Fortress Investments and Och-Ziff Management in the morning and AIG in the afternoon. The mega-insurer is projected to see revenue dip just one percent while EPS plummets 47 percent. It wraps up Friday after the bell when Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway reports.

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.