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What: Shares of cable mainstay AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) were captivating investors today, gaining as much as 14% on a strong quarterly earnings report

So what: The producer of shows like Mad Men and The Walking Dead said the popularity of its programming helped boost sales 17% to $332 million, despite a dispute with Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) that deprived AMC of 13% of its audience. DISH resumed carrying AMC channels -- which include WE, IFC, and Sundance -- last week, so fourth-quarter results should be mostly unaffected. Operating income and cash flow took a hit due to the dispute, and EPS declined slightly to $0.51 a share, but that still easily topped analyst estimates of $0.37.

Now what: The performance of The Walking Dead has been particularly strong, as it set the record for most-watched cable drama in its third-season premiere last month. Investing in TV networks can be difficult as original content providers experience a "program cliff" much in the way drugmakers face a patent cliff, so these companies need to develop a pipeline of appealing programs. However, with a season or two left in Mad Men and The Walking Dead just hitting its stride, the network seems to have some time before facing those concerns. Shares could continue to push higher in the near term.

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