ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – Dish Network, the nation's second largest provider of satellite TV service, said Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income rose 41 percent, beating Wall Street analysts' expectations even as it lost subscribers for the third straight quarter.
The Englewood, Colo., company ended the quarter with 156,000 fewer subscribers than it started, bringing the total customer base to 14.13 million – just 33,000 more than it had at the end of 2009.
Dish's stock fell $1.02, or 4.5 percent, to $21.91 in opening trading.
Dish said the loss of subscribers was mainly due to customers canceling service, rather than a change in the number of subscribers fresh to the company. Dish said the subscribers were leaving because of intense competition from other providers, weak economic conditions and disputes with broadcasters that have temporarily left viewers without access to certain channels.
Dish said its net income rose to $252 million, or 56 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, up from $179 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier.
Revenue rose about 8 percent to $3.21 billion from $2.96 billion. However, revenue inched down 0.1 percent from the third quarter, as the company was unable to compensate fully for the loss of subscribers.
Analysts were expecting earnings of 53 cents per share on $3.21 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.
The results come a day after DirecTV Group Inc., Dish's larger rival, said it added 289,000 U.S. subscribers in the U.S., its best fourth-quarter performance since 2008. DirecTV ended the quarter with 19.2 million U.S. subscribers.
For 2010, Dish reported net income of $984.7 million, or $2.20 per share, up from $635.5 million, or $1.42 per share, in 2009. Annual revenue rose to $12.64 billion from $11.66 billion.