Discovery Easily Surpasses Q4 Earnings Expectations

Distribution and ad revenues grow at U.S. and international networks

Discovery Communications far exceeded fourth quarter earnings expectations by reporting net income of $336 million on Thursday, up from $194 million in the same period in the previous year.

The owner of the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and OWN reported earnings of $0.86 per diluted share, up from $0.45 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of 2010. Wall Street analysts had forecasts earnings of $0.69 per diluted share.

The increase reflected growth in advertising and distribution revenue in U.S. and international networks, as well as  $109 million in lower taxes primarily due to the recognition of foreign tax credits.

Full year 2011 revenues of $4.2 billion increased $462 million, or 12 percent, over 2010 revenues, primarily because of 11 percent growth at U.S. Networks and 16 percent growth at international networks, the company said. Full year 2011 net income from continuing operations available to stockholders was $1.13 billion ($2.80 per diluted share) up from $630 million ($1.47 per diluted share) a year ago.

In 2012, the company said, it expects expects total revenue between $4.45 billion and $4.575 billion, and net income available to Discovery Communications stockholders of $975 million to $1.075 billion.

For the fourth quarter, U.S. networks' revenues climbed 11 percent to $677 million. International revenues climbed 12 percent to $401 million. Including education, corporate and other revenue, total revenue climbed 11 percent to $1.1 billion.

U.S. networks' distribution revenue climbed 7 percent to $282 million; advertising revenue was up 13 percent to $364 million. International distribution revenues were up 10 percent to $225 million, and advertising revenues were up 18 percent to $160 million.