Discovery Communications has reported an increase in fourth quarter operating profit as stockholder earnings fell short of Wall Street expectations.
The U.S. cable giant, which operates nets including Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet, said total revenue rose 8% to US$1.2 billion over the same period a year ago, but net income dropped to $224 million, or 61 cents per share, compared with $336 million – or 86 cents per share – in the same period.
Analysts had expected earnings of 76 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The company attributed the lower earnings to higher taxes and equity-based compensation.
Adjusted pre-tax operating income (OIBDA) was up 9% to $545 million, driven by a 17% increase from international networks and a 7% increase from U.S. networks. Excluding foreign currency fluctuations, fourth quarter revenues increased 9%.
For the full year, total revenue increased $319 million, or 8%, to $4.487 billion over 2011 and adjusted OIBDA increased 9% to $2.1 billion. Net income available to stockholders was $954 million or $2.51 per diluted share, a $181 million drop over the previous year’s $1.14 billion, or $2.80 per diluted share.
“Discovery’s commitment to investing in our brands and developing new and diverse growth opportunities produced another year of strong operating momentum and financial results in 2012,” Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav (pictured above) said in a statement.
“The appeal of our content resulted in larger audiences across the globe, enabling us to deliver consistently healthy advertising growth both domestically and internationally, while we further leveraged our valuable programming across emerging distribution platforms worldwide.
“At the same time, the strength of our balance sheet allowed us to make several strategic investments that we believe further bolster our asset portfolio, while also returning over $1.3 billion to shareholders this year,” he added. “We head into 2013 with significant momentum, having just delivered the highest fourth quarter domestic viewership in our history, and will continue to invest in strategic growth initiatives so that we can deliver sustained long-term financial results and shareholder value.”