Adjusted earnings per share of 90 cents marked an increase of 22% from 74 cents in the year-earlier quarter, but fell short of analysts’ consensus estimate of 94 cents a share. Revenue of $45.7 billion narrowly beat Wall Street forecasts of $45.4 billion.
Operating income came in at $7.3 billion, a gain of 25.2% primarily due to the Time Warner acquisition. The operating profit margin was 15.9% versus 14.6% a year ago.
WarnerMedia revenue hit $8.2 billion, up 7% from the comparable Time Warner report a year ago.
Revenue in Warner Bros., the biggest of the three media units, rose 7% to $3.7 billion on strength in TV licensing and a potent film slate, including upside surprises Crazy Rich Asians, The Meg and The Nun. HBO revenue increased just 2%. Turner saw ad revenue slump 4% while subscription revenue gained 6%.
In TV distribution, the company reported a loss of 346,000 traditional DirecTV subscribers, with 49,000 customers adding the internet-delivered DirecTV Now skinny bundle service in the period.
Debt levels, which alarmed some on Wall Street when they spiked after the closing of the $81 billion deal for Time Warner, will be at two-and-a-half times earnings by next year, the company said. They are predicted to return to historical (read: more conservative) levels by 2022.
Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson cited progress on “a number of fronts” in the period. “WarnerMedia was immediately accretive in its first full quarter, contributing 5 cents to EPS, and our free cash flow grew by double digits,” he said in the earnings release.
Stephenson and other executives will discuss the results shortly during a conference call with Wall Street analysts.