It was down and down for Amazon with its Q3 results today, when the online retailer reported that it missed estimates for sales and earnings. Amazon reported $13.18 billion in revenue for Q3, up 27% from a year ago but lighter than the $13.93 billion expectation. Excluding the 37 cents-a-share loss related to the company’s investment in locally based discount site LivingSocial, Amazon lost 23 cents a share in the quarter, much worse than the consensus expectation of an 8 cent loss. Shares in the online and cloud giant fell as much as 9% in volatile after-hours trading — it currently sits at around -3% at $220.70 a share. READ MORE »
UPDATE, 3:30 PM: TiVo’s beginning to sound more like a law firm than a technology pioneer. CEO Tom Rogers told analysts that the company is well positioned to beat AT&T, Verizon and Microsoft in court battles involving TiVo’s DVR patents following its settlement of a similar case with Dish Network. The agreement “sets a precedent” that “established the strong value of our patent portfolio,” Rogers said. As cash rolls in from Dish, and potentially other companies, TiVo would consider buying back its stock, which it considers undervalued. But executives had few specifics to offer about technology plans. TiVo’s behind schedule on one of its more important initiatives: a DVR for DirecTV. “We’ll launch (it) relatively soon, I hope,” Rogers said. Meanwhile, the company continues its struggle to find a niche for the DVRs it sells in electronics stores. TiVo has been losing ground to lower-priced and less-elegant models that cable and satellite companies offer to their subscribers. “We’ve spent a lot less on marketing going forward as we assess various price points,” Rogers says.
PREVIOUS, 1:57 PM: TiVo’s earnings in the quarter that ended in April were merely OK but looked spectacular with the help of a $175.7 million payment from Dish Network as part of the companies’ recent settlement of their long-running patent-infringement dispute. TiVo reported net earnings of $139 million, up from a $14.2 million loss in the same period last year, on revenues of $45.8 million, down 25.5%. Revenues came in slightly ahead of the range that TiVo told investors to expect.
UPDATE: ‘Mars Needs Moms’ A Costly Disappointment, But Disney CEO Bob Iger Stays Upbeat About Marvel, ABC And ESPN
UPDATE, 4:15 PM: How costly a mistake was Mars Needs Moms? Disney says the studio lost about $70 million in release costs and in an impairment charge for a film it now calls “very disappointing.” Still, CEO Bob Iger tried — not always successfully — to avoid sounding sour today as analysts probed him about quarterly results that seemed to have befuddled many of them. Iger talked up the prospects for Disney’s upcoming sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean and Cars. He also banged the drum for The Avengers, the Marvel action film due next year. Now that Disney has negotiated an early exit from Marvel’s distribution deal with Paramount, Iger says the movie will be the “first really big initiative” from Disney’s acquisition of Marvel with the potential to “turn into a true franchise.” He adds that Marvel is developing a block of shows for Disney XD, as well as individual programs for ABC and ABC Family. Also on the television side, Iger says the coming upfront ad market will “be a strong one” – which is far more vague than CBS chief Les Moonves’ projection of “solid-double digit increases” for his network. Iger acknowledged that the last few years were “not as great” for ABC as they were during the heyday of its hits including Lost, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy. But while he says that ABC has made “no decisions yet” about the primetime shows it will pick up for this fall, Iger adds that he’s “encouraged” by the pilots he has seen including “some really strong shows” from ABC itself.
Comcast Will Spend $300M More This Year On NBC Primetime & Cable While Admitting Universal “Has To Make Better Films”
This morning, the top Comcast execs in an earnings conference call admitted to Wall Street that NBCUniversal, which the company just purchased, is a fixer-upper and, in the short term, a money pit. NBCU chief Steve Burke says the company plans to spend $200 million more this year on NBC’s primetime schedule than General Electric did last year when it owned the network. (Burke is looking at 21 pilots, about the same number NBC ordered in 2010.) Comcast considers the turnaround to be a long-term project, but Burke says that simply lifting NBC to third place from fourth would mean “hundreds of millions” in improvement in the company’s cash flow. Meanwhile, Burke also says he plans to spend $100 million more this year on programming NBCU’s cable networks. He expects a “very strong” upfront ad sales season.
As for Universal’s film business, where 1Q revenues and operating cash flow declined, Burke says that “we have to make better films,” although the size of its current slate is “about right.” He attributed some of the woes to the fact that the company had to include a lot of marketing costs for Hop and Fast Five in the latest quarterly report even though most of the revenues from those recently released films will show up on Comcast’s next earnings statement.
Both Burke and Roberts mentioned the “S” word — synergy — which hasn’t been used by Big Media since the days of AOL Time Warner. And we all know how that turned out.
UPDATE, 3:07 PM: CBS Corp chief Les Moonves is such a relentless salesman you can’t resist being suspicious when he makes seemingly over-the-top financial forecasts the way he did today. But the results in CBS’ latest earnings report are too impressive, and his predictions are too specific, to ignore. Moonves says he expects “solid double-digit increases” in CBS’ ad sales in the coming upfront market. That’s one of the most bullish forecasts we’ve heard so far from a network executive. If the NFL season falls apart due to the team owners’ lockout, then “we expect to get a greater piece of the (advertising) pie.” Talking up CBS’ programming, Moonves says that Hawaii Five-0 is destined to become “a billion dollar franchise for us” following an initial syndication deal that prices the show at $5 million an episode. Moonves also is a fan of Netflix and other companies that want to offer TV programs online: Moonves says a deal that would enable Netflix to stream CBS shows in Latin America and Canada “might happen very quickly.” He’s also talking to Amazon, and expects to hear from Blockbuster as its new owner Dish Network considers using the home video chain to launch an online subscription service. Revenue from the Netflix deal that Moonves cut in February will appear on CBS’ books beginning in the second quarter.
In other matters, Moonves says that “there are a lot of moving pieces” with the Warner Bros-produced sitcom Two And A Half Men now that Charlie Sheen is gone, and he doesn’t know whether it will return. The CEO also says that he “has no great intent to sell” CBS’ outdoor advertising business.
The bullish predictions, the strong 1Q results, a decision to double CBS’ dividend to 10 cents a share, and the company’s plan to keep buying back its stock had a predictable result: The price of CBS’ shares rose 4.4% in after-hours trading.
PREVIOUS, 1:40 PM: CBS Corporation just provided yet more evidence that the advertising market is regaining its strength. The broadcast company’s 1Q earnings smashed through analysts’ expectations.