Time Warner Earnings Rise Despite Higher Costs

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Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) reported first-quarter 2015 results before markets opened Wednesday. The entertainment giant posted quarterly adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.19 and $7.13 billion in revenues. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.97 on revenues of $6.8 billion. First-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.09 and $7.0 billion in revenues.

In a separate announcement, Time Warner reaffirmed its full-year 2015 outlook. The company expects adjusted diluted EPS from continuing operations in the range of $4.60 to $4.70. In the first quarter, adjusted diluted EPS from continuing operations totaled $1.10, as both HBO and Warner Bros. studios posted lower adjusted operating income than in the same period a year ago.

Consensus estimates call for second quarter EPS of $1.11 on revenues of $6.98 billion. For the full year, analysts are looking for EPS of $4.65 on revenues of $28.43 billion.

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For the year through April 24, the company repurchased approximately 14 million shares of common stock for approximately $1.1 billion. Approximately $3.4 billion remains available for repurchases under Time Warner’s stock repurchase program.

The company’s CEO had this to say:

We accomplished a lot in the quarter, led by Turner, which had its best quarter ever, with audience growth across a number of its networks. … Warner Bros. led the domestic box office for the quarter on the strength of “American Sniper,” which brought in well over $500 million globally. … HBO once again grew domestic subscribers in the quarter… .

Turner’s success came as the NCAA division I basketball championships boosted revenues 5% above a year ago on increases of 4% in ad revenues, 3% in subscription revenues and 25% in content and other revenues, the latter due to higher subscription video-on-demand revenues. The company said subscription revenues grew due to higher domestic rates partially offset by lower domestic subscribers.

Similarly, HBO revenues grew 4% year-over-year in the quarter, but that was due to higher domestic subscription rates. Programming costs rose 9% due to increased expenses for original programming.

Revenues at Warner Bros also rose 4% on higher TV licensing revenues due to the subscription video-on-demand sale of the ever-popular “Friends” sitcom. Adjusted operating income declined as higher revenues were “more than offset by higher film and advertising costs due to the mix of theatrical releases and videogame product.”

Shares traded up about 1.6% in the premarket Wednesday morning, at $86.56 in a 52-week range of $60.85 to $88.25. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of $94.41 before the results were announced.

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