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Media Companies Report Higher Earnings

by on May 5, 2005

Major media conglomerates are reporting stronger financial performance in the first quarter of 2005.

Time Warner, parent company of Warner Bros. Pictures and Cartoon Network, had operating income of $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2005, up from $1.6 billion in the same quarter a year ago, the company said yesterday. Revenues rose 3% to $10.5 billion.

Results were mostly powered by double-digit revenue and operating income growth at the company’s Cable unit, which had operating earnings of $426 million on revenues of $2.2 billion. The company’s flagship Time Inc. unit also posted strong results, as revenues rose 8% to $1.2 billion and operating income rose 11% to $113 million.

Revenues at the company’s Networks division, which includes HBO, Turner Broadcasting and The WB, rose 4% to $2.3 billion, and operating rose 7% to $728 million, thanks to double-digit sales growth at the Turner networks, which offset a 5% fall in advertising sales at The WB. Meanwhile, results at the Film Entertainment division were essentially flat, with the unit reporting operating income of $328 million on revenues of $3.0 billion.

At AOL, revenues fell 3% to $2.1 billion and operating income rose 17% to $324 million.

Meanwhile, News Corporation had consolidated operating income of $889 million in its latest fiscal quarter, up 9% over the same period a year ago. Revenues rose 17% to $6.0 billion. Net income for the quarter fell to $400 million from $434 million, due to a restructuring charge.

The parent of Twentieth Century Fox credited the growth to better results at its Filmed Entertainment division, where operating income rose 15% to $251 million. Revenues rose to $1.5 billion from $1.2 billion in the year-ago quarter. Results were driven by home video releases of Alien vs. Predator, Napoleon Dynamite, and Family Guy.

The company’s Television segment saw its operating income fall $39 million to $221 million during the quarter as weakness at Fox Broadcasting offset better results at the Fox Television Stations. Revenues rose to $1.4 billion from $1.3 billion. Operating income at the company’s Cable Network Programming group jumped 55% to $172 million and revenues rose to $633 million from $580 million. Direct Broadcast and Newspapers also saw better results, but Magazine income fell.

Viacom Inc. saw its operating income rise 7% to $1.1 billion in the first quarter and revenues rose 5% to $5.8 billion.

Results were driven by strong double-digit increases at its Cable Networks unit, where revenues rose 19% to $1.7 billion and operating income rose 20% to $623 million. Advertising revenues at MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET rose 27%. The Entertainment unit, which includes Paramount, saw its revenues rise 6% to $891 million and operating income rise 10% to $59 million. The unit was helped by DVD sales of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.

Those increases and better results at its Radio and Outdoor units offset declines in Television, where revenues fell 5% to $2.1 billion and operating income fell 8% to $304 million. The company blamed the decline on the absence of advertising related to the Super Bowl and political campaigning.

[Source: Time Warner; Business Wire; Viacom]

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