AMC Networks Beats Q3 Earnings Estimates as International Growth Takes Off

Company completes purchase of RLJ Entertainment

AMC Networks beat the Street in the third quarter of 2018, reporting adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.15 on $697 million in revenue. Compare those with Wall Street’s forecasts: $1.80 in EPS on $694.29 million in revenue, per a consensus compiled by Yahoo Finance.

Overall, the publicly traded corporation’s revenues over the 90 days that ended on Sept. 30, 2018 rose 7.5 percent. We can break that down as growth of 3.5 percent at the national networks and a big 34.6 percent increase internationally. While that’s a big disparity on a percentage basis, AMC’s national networks group (AMC, WE tv, BBC America, IFC and SundanceTV; and AMC Studios, the Company’s television production business) is still almost 4x as large as the global arm.

Over the three months measured for these results, AMC’s national networks saw a 5 percent increase in distribution revenue, which was mostly thanks to increased subscription sales and greater content licensing returns.

It’s worth pointing out here that most of Season 4 of “Better Call Saul” aired during the summer quarter. “The Walking Dead” Season 9 waited for Q4 to premiere. The zombie drama’s spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead” ran in the third quarter.

AMC’s international and “other” segment principally consists of AMC Networks International, the company’s international programming business; IFC Films, its independent film distribution business; Levity Entertainment Group, AMC’s production services and comedy venues business; and the company’s owned subscription streaming services, Sundance Now and Shudder.

Shareholders can thank Levity for much of Q3’s revenue growth.

On Thursday, AMC also announced it has completed its acquisition of RLJ Entertainment, the home to Acorn TV and UMC (Urban Movie Channel).

“Today we announced our acquisition of RLJ Entertainment, the company behind the growing streaming services Acorn TV and UMC, which now reach nearly one million subscribers. This acquisition represents a major step forward for AMC Networks as we further diversify our business through direct-to-consumer offerings that we own and control, and through our AMC Studios operation and our international channels business,” President and CEO Josh Sapan said in comments accompanying the financials. “In an evolving media and entertainment marketplace, AMC Networks continues to be very well positioned based on our size, our pricing and our strong content, which includes three of the top five dramas on ad-supported cable, and we remain the most widely available independent programmer among virtual MVPDs. In the third quarter, we delivered solid financial performance and we are on track to meet our 2018 full-year financial targets of total company revenue and adjusted operating income growth.”

Shares of AMCX stock closed Wednesday afternoon at $58.58, up 84 cents. The U.S. stock markets reopen at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Sapan and other AMC executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss the quarter in greater detail. One key player will be missing, however.

Last month, “New Fox” said that AMC Networks president and general manager Charlie Collier would be leaving the company to become entertainment CEO of (what will be left of) Fox following the Disney deal. Collier presided over AMC’s reinvention into a scripted drama powerhouse on the strength of Emmy darlings like “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” and the striking ratings of “The Walking Dead.”

AMC Networks will continue to be led by Sapan and COO Ed Carroll. David Madden also joined last year as president of programming for AMC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios.

AMC is looking for a permanent replacement for Collier.