Higher domestic advertising prices offset lower U.S. ratings
AMC Networks had a better fourth quarter of 2018 than most people expected — from a financial perspective, at least. The home to AMC, BBC America, IFC and more channels topped media analyst forecasts at both its top and bottom lines.
Wall Street predicted earnings per share (EPS) would come in at $1.84 on $757.58 million in revenue, per a consensus forecast compiled by Yahoo Finance. AMC actually reported adjusted EPS of $1.92 on $773 million in revenue.
Though revenues slipped at the U.S. networks, ad sales actually ticked up 1.4 percent versus the comparable quarter last year, as higher prices more than offset lower ratings for “The Walking Dead” and other key shows.
Domestically, thanks to some accounting adjustments, AMC was able to report that its recognized operating income rose 7.3 percent. That positive momentum can be credited to lower programming expenses.
Beyond our borders, revenues soared 48.6 percent from Q4 2017 thanks to AMC’s 2018 acquisitions of Levity and RLJ Entertainment. The added revenue there comes with some added operating expenses, of course.
Some of the good here was dampened by a restructuring at AMC Networks. The company recognized $43 million of its $46 million 2018 restructuring costs in the fourth quarter.
“AMC Networks had a strong fourth quarter and a very successful 2018,” President and CEO Josh Sapan said in a prepared statement accompanying his company’s financials. “If there’s one headline for the year, it’s that AMC Networks continues to be a company that punches above its weight on almost every count, with a long history of having outsized impact and influence among our most important constituents, all to the benefit of our shareholders. We continue to have great success with our content, including BBC America’s ‘Killing Eve,’ which emerged as the sleeper hit of 2018; and we ended the year with AMC having 3 of the top 6 dramas on basic cable. Our quality content is the key driver behind our expanding distribution across linear and other platforms. In addition, the strength of our balance sheet allows us to continue to pursue smart and strategic investments that are changing our business, including our acquisition last year of RLJ Entertainment, which includes the Acorn TV streaming service, and is meaningfully advancing our direct to consumer interests, a key priority as we continue to diversify our revenue and grow our business.”
Shares of AMC stock (AMCX) closed at $63.58 on Wednesday, up $1.13 apiece. The U.S. stock markets will reopen their regular trading days at 9:30 a.m. ET.
AMC Networks executives will host a conference call for media analysts and reporters to discuss the quarter and full year in greater detail at 8:30 a.m. ET.