Time Warner Inc. will spin off Time Warner Cable (TWC) entirely, in response to ongoing investor pressure to divest its cable operations. Meanwhile, TWC turned in first-quarter results that showed growth in almost all metrics.
Investors are said to want simplicity from Time Warner. So a year ago, Time Warner spun out TWC as a separate company, though Time Warner retained an 84 percent interest.
Splitting TWC into a separate company apparently wasn’t good enough for investors, however. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said, “We’ve decided that a complete structural separation of Time Warner Cable, under the right circumstances, is in the best interests of both companies’ shareholders.”
No elaboration was provided on what the right circumstances might be.
Time Warner’s first-quarter results showed revenue growth in three of the five business segments. TWC led all five units in terms of revenue, revenue growth and operating income. Time Warner turned in a loss of $99 million, however, compared with a year-ago first-quarter loss of $105 million.
Time Warner’s AOL unit was the biggest drag on the bottom line. Investors are pressuring Time Warner to get rid of AOL, too, a dicier proposition given AOL’s ongoing shrinkage.
TWC was in clover for the quarter. Revenues grew 8 percent, or by $309 million, to $4.2 billion. Subscription revenues were up 8 percent, or $301 million, to $4 billion. Video revenues climbed 4 percent, or $99 million, to $2.6 billion, driven by continued growth in digital video services and video price increases, TWC said.
High-speed data revenues rose 11 percent, or $100 million, to $1 billion, fueled mainly by continued year-over-year residential high-speed data subscriber growth, according to the company. Voice revenues increased 39 percent, or $102 million, to $366 million, reflecting strong digital phone subscriber growth. Advertising revenues grew 4 percent, or by $8 million, to $197 million.
Revenue-generating units (RGUs) were up in all categories – with 896,000 net additions – to reach a total of 33 million RGUs. The company turned in its best quarterly basic video net gain – 55,000 – since the first quarter of 2006. Customer relationships totaled 14.7 million, with 96,000 net additions. Triple-play subscribers surpassed 2.6 million (or 18 percent of total customer relationships), benefiting from a record 247,000 net additions.
TWC CEO Glenn Britt said: “We generated very robust customer growth in the quarter, including net additions of nearly 100,000 customer relationships and 900,000 revenue-generating units. We also added a record number of triple-play customers, helping drive bundled penetration of customers who subscribe to two or more of our primary services to 50 percent of customer relationships.”
TWC said it stuck with its projection of 2008 full-year growth rate in revenues to be approximately 9 percent, and operating income to be up somewhere in the range of 9 percent to 11 percent.
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