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Time Warner Cable posts profit despite video sub losses

Thu, 01/27/2011 - 8:00am
Mike Robuck

Time Warner Cable posted a healthy 22.2 percent profit for last year, thanks to increased phone and data subscribers, but the trend of losing basic video subscribers continued.

Time Warner Cable reported its year-end and fourth-quarter earnings this morning. Time Warner Cable, which is the nation's second-largest cable operator, also announced a 20 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to 48 cents a share as the company spent $515 million during the fourth quarter on stock buybacks.

Time Warner Cable lost a total of 141,000 video customers in the fourth quarter while adding 94,000 data and 72,000 phone subscribers.

Time Warner Cable's triple-play net additions were 72,000 in the fourth quarter, while double- and triple-play subscribers totaled 8.5 million, or 59 percent of total customer relationships, as of Dec. 31.

Time Warner Cable said its fourth-quarter profit increased to $392 million, or $1.09 a share, from $322 million, or 91 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding a tax gain and other impacts, earnings climbed to 99 cents a share from 93 cents a share as revenue rose 5.9 percent to $4.8 billion.

Revenues for the fourth quarter of 2010 increased 5.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2009 to $4.8 billion.

Subscription revenues grew 4.6 percent year-over-year to $4.5 billion, driven by a 3.5 percent increase in residential subscription revenues and a 23 percent increase in commercial subscription revenues. Advertising revenues increased 34 percent to $269 million.

Full-year revenues increased 5.6 percent over 2009 to $18.9 billion. Subscription revenues grew 4.8 percent to $18 billion, with residential subscription revenues increasing 3.9 percent and commercial subscription revenues growing 21.1 percent. Advertising revenues increased 25.5 percent to $881 million.

For both the fourth quarter and full year of 2010, Time Warner Cable said residential subscription revenue growth was driven by increases in high-speed data, video and voice revenues.

Video revenue increased 1.6 percent, while high-speed data revenue rose 11 percent and voice revenue jumped by 7.6 percent. Buoyed by more political ad spending, advertising climbed 34 percent.

The increase in residential high-speed data revenues was attributed to growth in high-speed data subscribers and, to a lesser extent, increases in average revenues per subscriber.

Residential video revenues rose as a result of increases in average revenues per subscriber, which were due to price increases, improved subscriber mix and increased DVR service revenues, partially offset by the decline in video subscribers.

The growth in residential voice revenues was driven by an increase in digital phone subscribers, partially offset by a decrease in average monthly revenues per digital phone subscriber.

Commercial subscription revenue growth was due primarily to an increase in cell tower backhaul revenues, increases in business-class phone and high-speed data subscribers and higher metro Ethernet revenues.

Advertising revenue growth for both the quarter and full year was boosted by a wide range of categories, most notably political, automotive and media. Political advertising was $42 million in the fourth quarter of 2010 and $74 million in the full-year 2010 compared to $8 million and $20 million in the comparable periods of 2009.

Analysts had projected average earnings of $1 a share on revenue of $4.75 billion. Time Warner Cable's operating margin rose to 20.7 percent from 19.7 percent.

"We made great strides financially and operationally in 2010," Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said. "We achieved record free cash flow and continued to deliver on our shareholder-oriented capital allocation strategy. At the same time, we enhanced our products and services, increased the sophistication of our marketing and accelerated the growth of our commercial business. We look forward to the challenges and opportunities in the new year as we strive to deliver great service and quality products to our customers."

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