Time Warner profit grows but shares drop after Fox bid nixed

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 06, 2014 7:24 AM

(Reuters) - Time Warner Inc reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and boosted its stock buyback program, but the news failed to prevent its shares from tumbling 11 percent a day after Rupert Murdoch withdrew his bid for the company.

Revenue from Time Warner's Home Box Office unit jumped 17 percent to $1.42 billion for the second quarter, helped by the popularity of "Game of Thrones" and other HBO shows. The company said the fourth season of "Game of Thrones," which ended in June, was the most watched season of an original series in HBO's history. The Emmy award-winning fantasy epic had an average gross audience of 19 million viewers.

Time Warner's board said it increased its share buyback program in June by an additional $5 billion on top of the $4 billion it allocated for the same purpose. Fox announced a buyback program Tuesday of $6 billion. Still, Time Warner shares slumped 11 percent in morning trading, following news Tuesday that Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox had abandoned its $80 billion bid for the company.

The pulled offer means that Time Warner will have to defend its position as a solo company and convince shareholders its stock won't suffer as a result.

"When faced with a hostile takeover bid, Time Warner did exactly what they should have done. They crushed the numbers," wrote Michael Nathanson with MoffettNathanson Research in a note to investors.

REVENUE GROWS

The company's Turner Networks unit — home to CNN, TBS and TNT — also posted an increase in revenue on higher subscription and advertisement sales.

Net income from continuing operations attributable to Time Warner common shareholders rose to $843 million, or 94 cents per share, for the three months ended June 30, from $698 million, or 73 cents per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 98 cents per share.

Revenue increased to $6.79 billion from $6.61 billion.

Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of 84 cents a share on revenue of $6.87 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company, which also owns the Warner Bros. movie studio, forecast full-year 2014 adjusted profit growth in the low teens in terms of percentage, off a base of 2013 adjusted earnings of $3.51 per share.

Time Warner said in April it expected its full-year adjusted profit to grow in the low- to mid-teen percentage range, or better, for at least the next three or four years.

The company had spun off its magazine company Time Inc this quarter.

(Reporting by Aurindom Mukherjee and Lehar Maan in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das, Robin Paxton and Bernadette Baum)