A weaker film slate at its studio, Warner Bros., contributed to a mixed quarter at the media conglomerate, which saw its revenues fall 6% to $7.1 billion. That missed Wall Street’s estimates, although the company’s earnings per-share rose 8% to $1.06 per share, beating projections.
Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of $1.01 per share on revenue of $7.5 billion. Operating income dipped 12% to $1.4 billion for the three-month period ending in December.
It was a difficult quarter for Time Warner’s movie arm, Warner Bros. The division saw revenues fall 13% to $3.3 billion, as hits such as “Creed” and duds like “Our Brand Is Crisis” couldn’t match the windfall enjoyed by “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” and “Interstellar,” two major successes from the prior year period. Operating income did improve, however, increasing 15% to $366 million.
The picture was brighter at HBO and at Turner, the company’s broadcasting divisions. HBO’s revenues increased 6% to $1.4 billion, due to domestic subscriber growth. The label did say that higher programming costs and technology expenses related to the launch of its streaming service HBO Now had left operating income essentially flat at $393 million.
Turner revenues rose 2% to $2.7 billion on higher ad revenues thanks to the Major League Baseball playoffs. Higher programming costs took a bite out of operating income, pushing it down 1% to $777 million.
Time Warner is reporting its financial results as media companies are battling skepticism by the financial community about the long-term health of the cable business. There are concerns that the rise of digital streaming services could lead to subscriber losses, undermining a business model that has produced record profits at many conglomerates. The company’s stock nose-dived during its third quarter earnings call after it lowered its earnings projections.
Last month, Time Warner shares got a boost from rumors it might be for sale or that its management was weighing a spinoff of HBO. In 2014 Time Warner leadership rejected merger overtures from 21st Century Fox, arguing that it could create more value for shareholders as a standalone company.
In a boon to stockholders, Time Warner increased its annual cash dividend from $1.40 per share to $1.61 per share and inaugurated a new $5 billion stock repurchase program.
Time Warner closed Tuesday down 6.08% at $63.21. The company raised its 2016 earnings forecast, predicting profits between $5.30 to $5.40 per share. Consensus estimates are for earnings of $5.26 per share.