‘Kong: Skull Island,’ ‘LEGO Batman Movie’ Lead Time Warner to Strong Q1

“Big Little Lies,” “Last Week Tonight” and Turner’s NCAA Tournament also contribute

timewarner earnings
TimeWarner's logo on the iconography of a dollar bill

Time Warner is off to a good start in 2017, thanks to the first-quarter performances of “Kong: Skull Island,” “The LEGO Batman Movie,” “Big Little Lies,” “Last Week Tonight” and March’s NCAA Tournament, to name a few key properties.

Jeff Bewkes’ TV and film company reported adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.66 on $7.74 billion in revenue early Wednesday morning.

Those both beat Wall Street’s projections for Q1, which media analysts believed would result in EPS of $1.46 on $7.67 billion in revenue, per a Yahoo Finance compilation.

Not bad, Bewkes.

“We’re off to a strong start to 2017, as we continue to benefit from the investments we’re making in the best content while also developing new revenue streams that will drive growth and meet consumer demand for great experiences built around their favorite programming and brands,” the chairman and CEO said. “Warner Bros. delighted audiences in both film and television, with global hits in ‘Kong: Skull Island’ and ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ and more series across broadcast for the current season than any other studio.”

“Turner had another successful airing of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament across platforms, while CNN grew its total day ratings by 21 percent among adults 25-54, and remained the leader in digital news,” he continued. “Together, Turner and Warner Bros. also launched our new Boomerang-branded SVOD service, adding to our growing portfolio of products that are reaching consumers directly.”

“Home Box Office shined in the quarter highlighted by our limited series ‘Big Little Lies,’ which was both a critical and cultural breakout. ‘Last Week Tonight With John Oliver‘ is having its most-watched season to date, and we recently had the much anticipated returns of ‘Silicon Valley’ and ‘Veep,’” Bewkes concluded his written statement. “Looking ahead, we remain on track, pending completion of regulatory reviews and receipt of consents, to close our merger with AT&T Inc. before the end of 2017. We remain excited about the potential for this combination to accelerate the pace of innovation in our businesses.”

There were some imperfect areas of performance, of course. For example, Turner’s ad sales slipped 2 percent, and its operating income decreased 6 percent from the comparable quarter last year. On an adjusted basis, that decline was 4 percent. Those things tend to not make the prepared remarks.

Still, company shareholders will certainly take this return. On Tuesday, TWX stock closed at $99.33, up 24 cents per share. The U.S. stock markets will re-open at 9:30 a.m. ET this morning.

Time Warner executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss the quarter in greater detail. Surely, there will be plenty of AT&T talk then as well.

Speaking of the big-money buyer, AT&T executives also recently said they’re still on schedule to acquire Time Warner for $85 billion, and that the merger will likely close this year.

“On the Time Warner deal, approval is moving along as expected,” AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson stated a week ago on his own Q1 conference call. “The European Commission has approved it, the Department of Justice is now reviewing it.”

Because the proposed merger doesn’t involve the transfer of licenses, Stephenson said he doesn’t expect the Federal Communications Commission will find a need to review it all.