Liberty Media posts loss, but revs go up

QVC purchase surges sales

NEW YORK — Liberty Media said Monday it swung to the red last quarter on losses from some investments, but John Malone’s complex group — part financial, part operating company — offered some upbeat news by upping its full-year forecasts for QVC and Discovery.

Liberty lost $10 million in the first three months vs. a profit of $132 million the year before. Revenue surged to $2.37 billion from $505 million as the group folded in home shopping giant QVC, which it purchased from Comcast last year. Liberty also included large pan-European cabler UnitedGlobalCom in its consolidated results for the first time.

At Discovery Communications, revenue rose 23% to $527 million. Operating income jumped to $78 million from $37 million.

Liberty owns 50% of Discovery, which includes Discovery Channel. TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery Health Channel, Discovery Kids and a handful of other nets in the U.S. and overseas.

Liberty now sees revenue at the unit rising in the high teens and operating income up about 30%.

QVC grew revenue by 21% to nearly $1.3 billion. Operating income eased to $153 million from $180 million. For the full year, Liberty now anticipates revenue up in the low to mid-teens and a mid-teen dip in operating income.

At 100%-owned Starz Encore Group, revenue rose a hair to $232 million from $229 million. As expected, operating income plunged, to $53 million from $90 million on higher operating expenses — mainly increased programming license fees and affiliate marketing support.

Starz was hit earlier this year when Comcast refused pay the cushy fees that AT&T Broadband had forked out for Starz programming. Comcast acquired AT&T last year and threatened to take Liberty to court on the fees issue. Liberty backed down and is now getting market rates.

Starz’s full-year outlook is unchanged with revenue of $940 million-$965 million and operating income of $125 million-$150 million.

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