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Discovery Returns to Q1 Profitability Thanks to Scripps Acquisition

David Zaslav loves his free cash flow, which reached nearly half-a-billion dollars

Discovery released its first-quarter 2019 financial results early Thursday morning, when the company reported a beat on earnings estimates and revenue right in line with media analysts’ expectations.

Wall Street had forecast the company’s Q1 earnings per share (EPS) at 79 cents on $2.71 billion in revenue, per a Yahoo Finance consensus estimate. Discovery actually reported adjusted EPS of 85 cents on $2.71 billion in revenue.

Discovery returned to profitability in the quarter ended March 31, 2019, citing the Scripps acquisition for the improvement. Net income was $384 million, free cash flow grew to $498 million.

With those Scripps channels in its portfolio, U.S. revenues rose 49% to $1.8 billion. Things were muddied internationally by a comparison to the Olympics in 2018.

“In the first quarter we delivered a solid start to 2019, as we continue to power people’s passions through our loved brands and our owned global IP in genres that nourish audiences around the world,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery. “We are a differentiated media company and have the right strategy, assets, brands, and management team necessary to drive additional shareholder value.”

Discovery closed the near-$15 billion deal for Scripps in early March 2018. For all that money, Zaslav & Co. got HGTV, Food Network, DIY, Travel Channel and other networks to their already large cable portfolio. In Q1 2019, Discovery, Inc. revealed that DIY would be the channel rebranded for former “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Company stock (DISCA) closed Wednesday at $30.89 per share, down a penny apiece. The U.S. stock markets will reopen at 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning.

The Discovery board has authorized additional stock repurchases of up to $1 billion, the company said in its financial release.

Zaslav and other Discovery executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss the quarter in greater detail.