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AMC Networks Q1 Revenue Boosted by Digital Distribution

Earnings per share fly by Wall Street forecasts — after some key adjustments

AMC Networks revealed strong first-quarter revenue on Thursday morning, thanks in large part to an increase in digital distribution for its national networks. Earnings were even more impressive, blowing past media analyst expectations, due to some fortuitous adjustments.

While ad sales ticked up domestically, interestingly enough, the main channel — home to hits “The Walking Dead,” “Better Call Saul” and “Fear the Walking Dead” — didn’t help out. Simple timing can be blamed there. The other four networks under the company’s umbrella — WE tv, SundanceTV, BBC America and IFC — handled that heavy lifting,

Stateside, affiliate fees were also a big help. Overseas, AMC Networks International more than covered some losses at IFC Films.

Wall Street had forecast AMC Network earnings per share (EPS) of $1.79 on $695.47 million in revenue, per Yahoo Finance. AMC actually reported $707 million in revenue.

And with adjustments of debt-refinancing charges, EPS reached $1.99. That reverse-computes to net income of $146 million — a 20 percent increase over the comparable quarter last year.

“AMC Networks is continuing to build on the momentum and strength of 2015 with a strong start to 2016,” President and CEO Josh Sapan said in a prepared statement. “First quarter 2016 revenues, AOCF (adjusted operating cash flow) and operating income were healthy and growing.

“Our performance continues to be driven by the strength of our brands and the popularity of our original programming, particularly ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Better Call Saul’ and “‘Fear the Walking Dead,’ with viewers and advertisers,” he continued. “With the refinancing of our debt on favorable terms and the authorization of a $500 million share repurchase program, our company remains focused on creating and delivering value for shareholders.”

AMCX stock closed Wednesday at $63.65, down 11 cents per share. The regular trading day begins Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Company executives will hold a conference call at 10 a.m. ET to discuss the financial news in greater detail.