The entertainment giant needed to keep things under control in a quarter when ad sales were just so-so, and it had little to propel the film slate aside from The Dark Knight Rises. Net income for Q3 came in at $838M, +1.9% vs the period last year, on revenues of $6.84B, -3.2%. Revenues were lower than the $6.9B that analysts anticipated. But earnings at 88 cents a share beat forecasts for 82 cents. Time Warner‘s Networks unit, which includes Turner Broadcasting and HBO, pretty much matched the Street’s expectations with $3.3B in revenues (+4%) and operating income of $1.2B (+12.1%). The 7% increase in pay TV affiliate revenues and a pickup in HBO subscribers offset a 1% decline in ad sales. Turner was able to charge higher rates, but the overseas business was hurt by unfavorable currency exchange rates and the closing of entertainment networks Imagine in India and TNT in Turkey. The numbers were light in Film and TV Entertainment, which includes Warner Bros. Revenues fell 12.1% to nearly $2.9B — slightly ahead of forecasts — with operating income of $328 (-37.4%). The company says it couldn’t keep pace with last year, which included Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 and license fees for The Big Bang Theory and Friends.
Publishing, which houses Time Inc, also had a tough time with revenues of $838M (-5.7%) but, due to belt tightening, operating income of $127M (+2.4%). Ad sales fell 5% while subscription revenues were down 6%. “Overall, I’m very confident about how we’re positioned heading into next year and beyond,” CEO Jeff Bewkes says. “Reflecting that confidence and our continued commitment to improving shareholder returns, through November 2 we’ve purchased approximately $2.3 billion of our stock this year.”