Time Warner Revenue Beats Expectations on ‘Gravity,’ ‘Hobbit’ Success

Net income falls 12 percent

Time Warner revenue climbed 4.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 on the box office success of “Gravity” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and hit television shows such as “The Big Bang Theory.”

Revenue hit $8.56 billion for the three month period ending in December, up from $8.16 billion a year earlier. That beat the $8.39 billion analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted. Earnings per share of $1.17 beat consensus estimates by a cent.

Time Warner’s net income fell 12 percent to $983 million from $1.11 billion in the year-ago quarter on corporate write-downs

With the exception of Time Inc., the magazine division Time Warner will shortly spin-off, revenues in its various segments rose across the board.  Time Inc.’s revenues were essentially flat at $966 million, bolster by a 2 percent increase in advertising revenue. Subscription revenue from the unit’s publications — a suite of titles that includes Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly — fell 6 percent.

Time Warner’s pay-TV channel HBO saw revenue increase 6 percent to $1.3 billion on subscriber growth and international licensing, although the division noted that home entertainment revenues had weakened.

Consumers’ withering enthusiasm for buying discs also was experienced by Time Warner’s Warner Bros. division, even though the film and TV studio posted solid results. Revenues increased 7 percent to $4 billion on the strength of hit films such as “Gravity.”

CNN’s ratings headaches were a drag on Turner’s revenues, but the unit, which includes TNT and TBS, still saw revenues climb 3 percent to $69 million on subscription and advertising increases.

The company also reported its annual numbers on Wednesday. Revenues  for the full year increased 4 percent from 2012 to $29.8 billion, while  operating income rose 8 percent from 2012 to $6.6 billion. Income per share for the year of $3.77 represented a 16 percent increase from the prior year’s $3.24.

In addition, Time Warner said that its board had approved  a 10 percent increase in its quarterly dividend and unveiled a $5 billion share repurchase program.

Shares of Time Warner closed Tuesday up 1.43 percent at $62.40.