The entertainment company’s believers and skeptics will find something to support their cases in the report this morning about Time Warner‘s Q4 results. But early traders like what they see, including the forecast for low-double-digit growth in adjusted earnings this year: the share price is +4% in pre-market trading. In Q4, Time Warner generated net income of $1.17B, +51.3% vs the period last year, on revenues of $8.16B, -3.5%. Revenues were a little short of analysts’ consensus forecast for $8.25B. But adjusted earnings at $1.17 a share were well ahead of predictions for $1.10. At Time Warner’s Networks unit, which includes Turner Broadcasting and HBO, rising ad sales and affiliate fees resulted in a 5% increase in revenues, to $3.7B, with operating income +21% to $1.4B. CNN was helped by the presidential election, while TNT benefitted from an increase in the number of NBA games. The Warner Bros Film and TV Entertainment operation fared less well, with revenues -4% to $3.7B but with operating income +29% to $552M. Time Warner trots out the “difficult comparisons” excuse for the revenue decline, noting that last year it had the home video of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 and the video game Batman: Arkham City. And, once again, the Time Inc magazine publishing division had woeful numbers with revenues -7% to $967M and operating income -3% to $200M. Ad sales were down while subscription revenues were flat.
Time Warner continues to return cash to investors: The company says it spent $1.1B since November to repurchase its shares — and reports that the board just approved an 11% increase in the quarterly dividend to $0.2875 a share. The moves reinforce “our commitment to return capital and our confidence in our continued growth,” CEO Jeff Bewkes says.