UPDATE, 6:45 AM: A company that boasts about its ability to produce drama just let down its audience: Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes told analysts that he’s “not going to comment on the proposal from 21st Century Fox and its withdrawal.” He added, though, that Time Warner is “committed to delivering substantial and sustainable returns.” His stock is down 11.2% in early trading after Rupert Murdoch took back his $80B offer, which Time Warner had already rejected. Bewkes says that he’ll have an Investor Day event in the fall where execs can show how they plan to keep profits growing.
Although execs wouldn’t discuss Fox, they spoke broadly about Time Warner’s view of mergers and acquisitions. “We always look at M&A opportunities as they present themselves,” CFO Howard Averill said, adding that “we don’t need to do anything.” Bewkes says the company has “leading scale in all of our businesses” including movie and TV production and distribution. “We’re not lacking something that we need.” Meanwhile “there are benefits and risks to making any kind of combination” including interruption of plans and regulatory scrutiny.
PREVIOUS, 4:20 AM: This might catch the eye of Time Warner investors this morning after learning last night that Rupert Murdoch has withdrawn his $80B offer for the owner of Warner Bros, HBO and Turner networks: Time Warner says that its board in June added $5B to its share repurchase effort, bringing the total now to $6.5B. The company’s shares still are tracking -11% at about $75.60 in pre-market trading as people wait to hear CEO Jeff Bewkes explain why he stiff-armed Fox, which offered $85 a share in cash in stock. Murdoch last night upped his share repurchases by $6B.
Time Warner’s new Q2 earnings report provides mixed indications that shareholders will still do better with Bewkes’ growth plans. The company generated $850M in net income, +10.3% vs the period last year, on revenues of $6.79B, +2.7%. The top line missed the Street’s expectation for $6.87B. But adjusted earnings at 98 cents a share beat forecasts for 84 cents.
Bewkes called it “another strong quarter, reflecting the strength of our businesses and our potential for continued growth.”
The Turner networks’ operating income rose 14% to $929M on revenues of $2.8B, +5%. The increase was largely due to an 8% rise in the fees from pay TV distributors while ad sales just rose 1%. To improve the bottom line, the company cut marketing expenses partly offsetting the 5% increase in programming fees as the company broadcast two NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship semifinal games.
Warner Bros was a mixed bag: Revenues fell 2% to $2.9B. This year’s film slate featuring Godzilla proved no match for last year’s with Man Of Steel. But operating income rose 29% to $234M helped by home video and TV sales and, the company says, “lower restructuring costs and reversals of bad debt reserves.”
HBO had a better story to tell with the help of revenues from its recent program licensing deal with Amazon Prime. Sales increased 17% to $1.4B with a 10% increase in subscription revenues and a 56% increase in content deals. Operating income was up 19% to $548M even though last year’s quarter included a gain from HBO’s acquisition of an interest in HBO Nordic.
Time Warner added that it reaffirmed its 2014 financial outlook for low teen percentage growth in adjusted earnings per share.