TV Network Strength Boosts Time Warner Earnings

Pedestrians walk past the Time Warner Center building in New York, U.S.
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians walk past the Time Warner Center building in New York, U.S.

Earnings at Time Warner grew 24 percent in the first three months of the year despite a slight drop in revenue, as the company benefited from strength in its television networks.

Time Warner Inc. said Wednesday that first-quarter net income was $720 million, or 75 cents per share, compared with $583 million, or 59 cents, a year earlier. Adjusted for one-time items, the company earned 82 cents per share, beating the 75 cents expected by analysts surveyed by FactSet.

But revenue of $6.94 billion was short of the $7.16 billion expected by analysts. In the same period last year, revenue was $6.98 billion.

Its shares fell $1.41, or 2.4 percent, to $58.37 in premarket trading. (Click here for the latest before-hours quote.)

Time Warner said revenue growth at its television channels such as TBS and HBO was offset by declines at the studio production and magazine businesses.

The company said the Warner Bros. studio was successful with television productions, including hits such as "Revolution" on NBC and "The Following" on Fox. But revenue at the studio fell 4 percent to $2.7 billion because its movies didn't do as well in theaters and it had fewer TV shows available for licensing abroad.

Another weakness was in the Time Inc. magazine business, which the company plans to spin off into a separate publicly traded company by the end of the year. Revenue at Time Inc. fell 5 percent to $737 million. A 2 percent increase in advertising revenue was offset by larger declines in subscription and other revenue. Ad revenue grew because the division now handles the websites for Sports Illustrated and Golf.

Revenue at the television networks grew 3 percent to $3.7 billion because of a 5 percent increase in subscription revenue, such as fees that cable and satellite TV companies pay to carry Turner channels.

Advertising revenue at the networks fell 1 percent despite higher ad rates, in part because of weakness at CNN and the shutdown of channels in India and Turkey.

The company also reaffirmed its outlook for the full year. It expects percentage growth in adjusted earnings to be in the low double digits. Analysts were expecting adjusted earnings of $3.68 per share, or about 12 percent above $3.28 per share in 2012.

Time Warner also said it will issue a dividend of 28.75 cents per share on June 15 to shareholders of record on May 31.