Wall Street has a lot of questions about Discovery Communications’ prospects, but at first glance its just-released Q2 report doesn’t appear to have much that will feed the bears.
The cable networks company generated $408 million in net income, up 42.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $1.71 billion, up 3.3%. The top line is right where analysts expected. And earnings at 66 cents a share were well ahead of projections for 54 cents.
“Discovery posted a solid quarter of growth and financial results by investing in premium and diversified content that fuels the passion of superfans on pay-TV, free-to-air, direct-to-consumer and digital platforms,” CEO David Zaslav says. “Our differentiated portfolio of nonfiction, sports and children’s content in more than 220 markets positions Discovery for continued growth and shareholder value creation in the months and years to come.”
At the U.S. Networks unit, revenues were up 7% to $873 million with Discovery’s preferred profit measure — adjusted Operating Income Before Depreciation and Amortization (OIBDA) — up 10% to $544 million.
Ad sales increased 5%, to $471 million, with higher rates outweighing the drop in ratings. Although the company says it saw “slight declines in subscribers,” distribution rate increases lifted revenues by 8% to $386 million.
The International Networks’ report was more complicated. Its revenues fell 1% to $790 million while adjusted OIBDA dropped 6% to $249 million.
But some of that was due to the weakening of overseas currencies vs the U.S. dollar, and comparisons with last year which included SBS Radio — a property that Discovery sold at the end of June 2015. If you factor those out, then revenues and adjusted OIBDA would each be up 8%.
Ad sales at $342 million were down 7%, but would have been up 5% if you factor out foreign exchange and SBS. Similarly, distribution revenues at $427 million were up 2%, and — all things being equal — would have been up 10%.
Discovery says that improvements in Southern Europe were offset by declines in Northern Europe which was affected by ratings decline and turbulence created by the UK’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union.