Time Warner beat Wall Street expectations and swung to a fourth quarter profit of 55 cents per share on higher revenue of $7.32 billion.
The company's impressive results — driven by a 61 percent increase in filmed-entertainment earnings and a 32 percent increase in operating profit at its networks, driven by higher subscriber revenue. And the gains came despite an 8 percent drop in ad revenue. All eyes are on the ad market: the company pointed out sequential improvement from the prior quarter, saying it'll see further signs of improvement this quarter.
The company raised its outlook for adjusted earnings per share to mid-teens growth this year. More good news for Wall Street: Time Warner raised its dividend 13 percent to an annual rate of 85 cents per share, and is increasing its share buybacks.
Right after the company's earnings call I interviewed CEO Jeff Bewkes. He talked about how they're going to maintain their growth — it's all about their original content.
Bewkes is excited about the migration of content from your television to the Internet.
He's talking not just about websites like CNN.com, but about "TV Everywhere," Time Warner's push to give cable subscribers access to their cable content on demand, from the web.
I asked Bewkes if the DVD business was dying — he says no. High def BluRay DVDs are already providing growth (3-D discs will be next), and he pointed to the profitable video-on-demand business, that's growing fast. He said they don't have any big acquisitions in mind, but that they'll continue to try to generate growth as the economy recovers and from new digital revenues.
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