The company attributed the decline in revenues to its Blockbuster segment, as if anyone expected that to be a winner. The big drop in profit was caused by higher programming and subscriber acquisition costs. Even excluding a $99 million one-time gain in the first quarter of last year, Dish came up about $30 million lower in operating income this year.
The company’s CEO said:
Broadband sales are encouraging, especially given that almost all of our dishNET™customers have bundled with our pay-TV service.
New pay-TV subscriber additions were lower, but net subscriber numbers rose by about 36,000 in the first quarter. Dish’s subscriber count of 14.09 million is about 20,000 more than at the end of the same period a year ago.
The company added 66,000 broadband customers in the first quarter, compared to just 6,000 a year ago. This is where the company is looking for growth and why it has made bids for both Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) and Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S). Expect Dish to chase Clearwire with renewed gusto if it loses out on Sprint.
Dish shares are trading down about 1.4% in the premarket this morning to $39.04. The stock’s 52-week range is $26.12 to $40.95, and that high was posted yesterday. The consensus target price for the shares was around $40.75 before today’s report.