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Dishing up sat gains

EchoStar boosts profits, subs, disappoints Street

HOLLYWOOD — Charlie Ergen’s EchoStar Communications dished up big gains in profit, revenue and subs at satcaster Dish Network on Wednesday, but the company’s stock dropped on the news as financial results still disappointed some analysts.

The Denver-based company posted profit of $129 million in the latest quarter, a 249% leap from the same period last year.

Revenue rose 21% to $1.41 billion, as Dish added 270,000 net new subscribers in the quarter for a total 8.8 million subs as of June 30. That repped an 18% improvement over a year earlier, though it still lagged satcasting rival DirecTV’s 11.6 million subs.

Churn squirm

But execs acknowledged a higher rate of turnover in subs than a year ago, and churn rate was also a bit higher than the most recent turnover rate for DirecTV.

“We have room for improvement,” Ergen acknowledged in a conference call with analysts.

EchoStar said its free cash flow totaled $151 million in the latest quarter, up 358% from a year ago. Cash flow was helped by a legal settlement in a case involving set-top boxes and was hurt by costs associated with use of a new satellite set to launch next year.

Court victory

Separately Wednesday, EchoStar touted as a “major victory” a decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to stay a lower court’s injunction pending further appeal in a case involving carriage of broadcast channels on the Dish Network.

Dish has been warring with ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox over the right to provide its subscribers feeds of out-of-town network affiliates. The webs argue ratings of local affils would be hurt by allowing such arrangements.

EchoStar shares fell $1.85, or 5%, at $34.27.