Time Warner turned in flat revenue for the third quarter -- but its cable networks division again propped up the bottom line with the conglom boosting operating income 8% and handily beating analyst earnings estimates.
"The biggest driver was again our Networks segment, which grew Adjusted Operating Income by double digits and posted its highest quarterly profits ever," chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes said in announcing the results, touting performance of TBS, TNT, CNN and HBO.
Time Warner's adjusted earnings per share was $1.01, topping Wall Street's 89 cents per share estimate.
Warner Bros. revenue decreased 7% to $2.7 billion and adjusted operating income declined 8% to $302 million; the Street had projected $253 million in adjusted operating income. Studio said the declines mainly reflected comparison to a strong Q3 2012 which included "The Dark Knight Rises" as well as lower TV revenue from theatrical product and "the timing of subscription video-on-demand availabilities." Meanwhile, Warners boosted TV licensing revenue primarily due to the initial domestic off-network availability of "The Middle."
In the quarter, Warner Bros. got help with the release of two sleeper hits: "The Conjuring" and "We're the Millers," which have grossed $310 million and $260 million, respectively, through Nov. 3. In addition, studio's critically acclaimed "Gravity" has pulled in $430 million at the box office. Bewkes called out next month's debut of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," the second installment in the franchise.
The cable group, comprising Turner Broadcasting System and HBO, turned in revenue of $3.5 billion, up 5% from the year earlier. The division posted 4% growth in subscription revenue -- mainly from higher U.S. carriage fees -- and an 11% increase in ad revenue. Operating income increased 20% to $1.5 billion, partly offset by increased restructuring and severance expenses of $36 million.
On the publishing front, Time Inc. continued to falter. Revenue decreased 2% to $818 million, reflecting declines of 4% ($12 million) in subscription revenue and 2% ($7 million) in ad sales. Operating income dropped 9% to $115 million. In March, Time Warner's board approved plans to spin off Time Inc.
Time Warner Profits Buoyed by Cable in Q3
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