Analysts may overlook some of the encouraging numbers in the satellite company’s latest earnings as a higher-than-expected churn rate resulted in disappointing growth in domestic subscriptions. DirecTV ended up with net income of $572M, +9.8% vs the period last year, on revenues of $7.42B, +8.4%. Revenues were a hair above the $7.41B that the Street expected. But earnings per share at 90 cents missed projections for 93 cents — and the results would have been lower without a $39M “other gain.” The U.S. business generated $5.77B in revenues, +6.4%, with an operating profit of $876M, +9.5%. The gains were partly due to price increases, higher sales of premium services, and an extra week of NFL Sunday Ticket vs last year. But the standout figure is the 19.98M domestic subscriber number — up just 67,000 vs last year’s gain of 327,000. The company says the slowdown is largely due to a rising churn rate “principally driven by a contract dispute” with Viacom.
Meanwhile revenues at the Latin American operation came in at $1.58B, +16.3%, with an operating profit of $221M, -6.4%. Profits were hurt by unfavorable currency exchange rates, inflation, high programming costs partly attributable to the Olympics, and rising subscriber acquisition costs. All told, the overseas business “came in below expectations on almost all fronts,” says Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker. But CEO Mike White remained upbeat, characterizing Q3 as “another strong quarter highlighted by solid revenue, earnings and cash flow growth.”
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