Improved operating results enabled Time Warner to narrow its losses in the first quarter.

After paying preferred dividends, the company posted a loss of $ 124 million, compared to a loss of $ 150 million for the year earlier period. The loss per common share for the quarter was reduced to 33 cents per share from 40 cents last year.

The 1993 figures reflect the redemption of the series D preferred stock during the quarter. TW noted that if the redemption of the series D preferred stock and the exchange of the series C preferred stock had occurred on Jan. 1, 1993, the loss per common share for the quarter would have been just 21 cents.

The results for both the first quarter of 1993 and 1992 include non-cash amortization charges of approximately $ 125 million associated with the 1989 acquisition of Warner Communications.

Despite the loss, TW reported significantly improved operating results. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased by 12% to $ 630 million on revenues of $ 3.3 billion in the first quarter, compared to $ 561 million on revenues of $ 3 billion in the year-earlier period with all five businesses showing increases in EBITDA and revenues for the quarter.

Commenting on the company’s performance, chairman and CEO Gerald M. Levin said: “We are pleased with our strong first quarter results … I continue to be optimistic about the outlook for our businesses.

First quarter EBITDA from the company’s filmed entertainment division was a record $ 104 million vs. $ 96 million a year ago. Worldwide theatrical revenues were led by “The Bodyguard” ($ 266 million at the international box office through last week and the largest-grossing international film in the history of Warner Bros.) and “Sommersby” ($ 44 million at the domestic box office through Friday). Also contributing to the quarter were increases in worldwide syndication.

Cable earnings rise

Time Warner Cable Group’s EBITDA rose to $ 255 million in the quarter, up 12% from $ 228 million a year ago. The company said the record results were due primarily to an increase in the number of subscribers as well as continued strong growth in advertising and pay-per-view revenues.

Record HBO quarter

Time Warner’s HBO had record first quarter EBITDA of $ 55 million compared with $ 52 million a year ago. Revenues improved at HBO and Cinemax, and at its affiliated television production companies, while increased EBITDA came principally from reduced losses at Comedy Central.

Music sounds good

The Warner Music Group posted record first quarter EBITDA of $ 160 million, up 13% compared with $ 141 million in first quarter 1992. Contributing to the quarter’s results were strong increases in domestic music sales from a broad array of both established stars and new artists such as Dr. Dre, Silk, Snow, Digable Planets and Tracy Lawrence.

First quarter EBITDA for Time Inc., the company’s publishing division, was up 27% to $ 56 million compared to $ 44 million a year ago.

Increases in both magazine circulation and book sales, along with improved operating margins, contributed to the strong quarter.

Results top expectations

Analyst Lisbeth Barron of S.G. Warburg said the operating numbers were slightly better than Wall St. expectations, especially with regard to music and publishing.

But she expressed doubts that such strong cash flow gains could be sustained over the full year.

Barron noted, “Music benefited from great Billboard position in the first quarter and new acts that provided higher margins, but I’m not sure you can really sustain a 13% increase cash flow for the year.

“You know you can’t sustain the film cash flow number for the year, which was up 8.3%. That’s going to be down year over year as you get through the third quarter and a film lineup that does not look as strong as last year’s.”

Time Warner’s stock closed Monday unchanged at 34 1/2.

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