EchoStar is back in black

Earnings Brief

EchoStar, the nation’s No. 2 satcaster, swung to a profit last quarter and sales surged 28% to just over $2 billion as Dish added 352,000 net new subscribers and posted higher revenue per sub.

Charlie Ergen’s company reported net profit of $318 million vs. a loss of $43 million the year before. Result stems partly from a one-time $134 million gain related to an insurance settlement on the EchoStar IV satellite. In addition, the year-ago quarter included a $78 million charge.

Dish ended the quarter with 11.23 million subscribers.

Wall Street lauded the numbers, but some found remarks by chairman-CEO Ergen during a conference call less than reassuring. Ergen discussed intense pay-TV competish with cablers, telcos and a more powerful DirecTV.

Cablers have the edge in bundling as they push ahead with triple plays of video, Internet and telephone.

“You want to control the things you can control,” Ergen said, like cost. But he suggested the competitive environment is forcing Dish to discount programming.

“Management’s tone was downright depressing to us,” wrote Prudential Securities’ Kathy Styponias.

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