Time Warner's 3Q revenues up 6 per cent to $10.5 billion

MUMBAI: Media conglomerate Time Warner has announced results for the third quarter ended 30 September 2005. Revenues rose by six per cent over the same period in 2004 to $10.5 billion, led by growth at the cable, networks, movies and publishing segments.

Adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortisation climbed by nine per cent to $2.6 billion, reflecting strong double-digit increases at the networks and cable segments as well as gains at the AOL and Publishing segments. This growth was offset partly by a decline at the movies segment due to difficult prior-year comparisons. Operating Income rose by 60 per cent to $1.8 billion, due primarily to the absence of the prior-years charge to establish legal reserves of $500 million related to the government investigations.

Net debt totalled $12.4 billion, down $3.8 billion from $16.2 billion at the end of 2004. Revenues at HBO, WB Networkm and TBS grew by 10 per cent ($210 million) to $2.4 billion, reflecting higher content, subscription and ad revenues. Content revenues climbed 38 per cent ($83 million), driven by HBOs broadcast syndication sales of Sex and the City and higher international sales of HBO original programming.

Subscription revenues rose by five per cent ($69 million), resulting mainly from higher rates at Turner and HBO and, to a lesser extent, an increase in subscribers at Turner. Ad revenues were up 8% ($54 million), led by 12 per cent growth at the Turner networks. Operating Income before depreciation and amortisation climbed 21 per cent ($131 million) to $766 million. Growth in subscription and ad revenues, as well as contributions from HBOs broadcast syndication sales of Sex and the City, were offset partially by an increase in original programming expenses at Turner and higher overall general operating expenses.

The company's board of directors has authourised a $7.5 billion increase in the stock repurchase program to a total of $12.5 billion over the next 21 months, in keeping with the two-year schedule for the original stock repurchase programme announced in August 2005. Purchases for the stock repurchase programme may be made from time to time on the open market and in privately negotiated transactions.

Size and timing of these purchases will be based on factors including price as well as business and market conditions. As of 31 October, 2005, the company has repurchased approximately 45 million shares of common stock for approximately $809 million. Revenues at AOL fell by five per cent to $2.0 billion, reflecting a 28 per cent increase ($71 million) in ad revenues. This was more than offset by a 10 per cent decrease ($175 million) in subscription revenues. Ad revenues benefited from growth in paid search ($31 million) and ($31 million), which was acquired in August 2004. The decrease in subscription revenues was due primarily to a decline in domestic AOL brand subscribers.

As of 30 September 2005, the AOL service totaled 20.1 million U.S. members, a decline of 678,000 from the prior quarter and 2.6 million from the year-ago quarter. In Europe, the AOL service had 6.1 million members, a decrease of 98,000 from the previous quarter and a decline of 170,000 from last years quarter.

Revenues from the cable division of Warner rose by 13 per cent ($274 million) to $2.4 billion, driven by a 13 per cent climb ($269 million) in Subscription revenues and a four per cent increase in ad revenues. Subscription revenues benefited from a 24 per cent increase ($106 million) in high-speed data revenues, significant growth in digital phone revenues ($76 million), 16 per cent growth ($27 million) in enhanced digital video service revenues and higher basic cable rates. Average monthly revenue per basic cable subscriber rose 13% to $86, marking the seventh consecutive quarter of double-digit, year-over-year growth.

Revenues from movies rose by six per cent ($147 million) to $2.7 billion, led by the strong domestic theatrical performance of Warner Bros. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Batman Begins as well as New Lines Wedding Crashers. Also contributing to the increase were higher television revenues from home video and international sources. This growth was offset partially by the difficult comparison to the prior-year quarters international theatrical revenues.


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