DirecTV Q1 Earnings Up 8.5% Despite Slowing Subscriber Growth

Latin American expansion shows signs of paying off as DirecTV reports 8.4 million subscribers in the region

Despite modest U.S. subscriber growth and investing heavily in Latin America, DirecTV reported Tuesday that its first-quarter earnings rose 8.5 percent.

The satellite broadcaster had a profit of $731 million, or $1.07 per share, in line with analysts' expectations. A year earlier, the company reported a profit of $874 million, or 85 cents a share for the same period. 

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Revenue was up 12 percent to $7.05 billion from $6.32 billion, topping Wall Street's $7.03 billion estimate. The bottom line was aided by DirecTV's share-repurchase program, which brought in $1.26 billion in the first quarter. Operating profit was up to $1.31 billion.

Total subscribers in the U.S. were at 19.97 million for the quarter, up from 19.4 million a year earlier. Net subscriber gains fell to 81,000 from 184,000.

The company added 593,000 subscribers in Latin America, up from 427,000 a year ago. Its free cash flow in the region fell to $34 million from $76 million a year ago as the company invested in equipment and launch costs. It reported 8.46 million subscribers in the region, a 36% jump from the year earlier.

Shares of DirecTV were off $1.09, or 2.1 percent, to $46.86 in late morning trading.