The latest earnings report will send analysts back to their spreadsheets: With the spin off of Time Inc planned for mid-year, Time Warner has begun to report separate results for the Turner networks and HBO, which were previously lumped together. But the entertainment giant should have a good day with Q4 numbers that, at first glance, appear to have beaten most expectations,as it also forecast low double digit earnings growth in 2014, and promised to return of capital via a 10% increase in the quarterly dividend and a new $5B share repurchase authorization. Time Warner reported net income of $983M, down 11.6% vs last year’s Q4, on revenues of $8.57B, +4.9%. The top line beat forecasts for $8.39B. Excluding one-time items, earnings came in at $1.17 a share, ahead of predictions for $1.15. The ad-supported Turner networks saw revenues grow 3% to $2.5B with revenues from pay TV distributors up 6% but ad sales up an anemic 1%. Numbers at CNN fell, the company says, “primarily due to the comparison to the 2012 U.S. presidential election” in 2012. Operating income for the networks fell 10% to $95M as Time Warner took an $18M impairment charge for a building in South America, and compares itself to last year when it had a $34M gain from the 2007 sale of the Atlanta Braves. At HBO revenues were up 6% to $1.3B with an 8% increase in sales from subscriptions offset by a 9% decline in content sales — mostly home video. Operating income fell 4% to $413M due to rising programming expenses and the consolidation of HBO Asia and HBO Nordic. Meanwhile, movies including Gravity and The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug helped to offset declining home video and TV licensing sales to raise Warner Bros revenues 7% to $4B with operating income +4% to $576M. CEO Jeff Bewkes says that everything’s on track for the spin off of Time Inc in Q2 and assured investors that the increase in the dividend and share repurchase plan demonstrate “our commitment to stockholder returns.”
Here’s how the numbers look:
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