‘Fantastic Beasts,’ HBO and Turner Lead Time Warner to Strong Q4

Ben Affleck’s “The Accountant” also chipped in on these financials

Last Updated: February 8, 2017 @ 5:54 AM

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” helped lead Time Warner to a fairly magical fourth-quarter of 2016.

The Warner Bros. parent unveiled its Q4 and full-year financials early Wednesday morning, reporting earnings per share of $1.25 on $7.9 billion in revenue for the most-recent 90-day period. Wall Street had forecast earnings per share of $1.19 on $7.72 billion in revenue, per Yahoo Finance.

In other words, Jeff Bewkes’ company beat analyst expectations fairly comfortably at both the top and bottom lines.

Of course, it wasn’t just the Harry Potter-universe movie that made a mark. Ben Affleck’s “The Accountant” also helped please Time Warner’s actual accountants. On the small screen, HBO and Turner subscriptions both grew, offsetting Turner’s disappointing ad sales.

Warner Bros. revenue jumped 17 percent for the fourth quarter, HBO’s increased 6 percent and Turner’s rose 7 percent year over year. Turner’s full-year top line was also up 7 percent, HBO’s was up 5 percent and Warner Bros. remained basically flat from 2015.

“We had another very successful year in 2016, demonstrating once more Time Warner’s ability to deliver strong financial performance alongside creative and programming excellence,” Chairman and CEO Bewkes said in a statement. “All our operating divisions increased revenue and profits while also making investments to capitalize on the growing demand for the very best video content and new ways to deliver it to audiences around the world. Warner Bros. is once again the No. 1 supplier of television shows for the broadcast networks, and had its second-best year ever at the global box office, nearing $5 billion in receipts with such hits as ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,’ ‘Suicide Squad’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.'”

“Home Box Office again stood apart with its combination of the biggest Hollywood hit movies and best original programming — receiving more Primetime Emmy Awards in 2016 than any other network for the 15th consecutive year and launching ‘Westworld,’ which is produced by Warner Bros. and is the most-watched new series in HBO’s history. We’re also really pleased with the growth of HBO’s domestic OTT product, and we expanded HBO’s international OTT footprint with launches in Spain, Brazil and Argentina in 2016,” he continued. “Turner continued to strengthen its leadership with TBS, TNT and Adult Swim all ranking among ad-supported cable’s top five networks in primetime among adults 18-49 for the year. TBS was the No. 1 ad-supported entertainment cable network on the strength of great sports and a bold new lineup of originals, including ‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,’ and CNN was the No. 1 news network among adults 18-49 in primetime and the No. 1 digital news destination in 2016.”

Time Warner stock (TWX) closed Tuesday at $96.22, down 14 cents per share. This morning, the company declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.4025 per share of common stock, payable in cash on March 15, 2017 to shareholders of record on February 28, 2017.

AT&T, which is in the process of procuring Time Warner for $85 billion, didn’t fare so hot over its own Q4: Here are those soft earnings. Still, Bewkes reassured investors on Wednesday that the deal remains “on track” to close later this year. After all, who wouldn’t want to buy a content company whose profits increased from $3.8 billion to $3.9 billion this year?

Time Warner executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss the quarter and fiscal year in greater detail.