Biz Briefs

May 12, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Cable giant Comcast fell deeper into the red Thursday, reporting a first-quarter loss of $297 million, or 13 cents a share, from a year-earlier loss of $89 million, or 9 cents a share. Wall Street analysts were projecting a loss of 9 cents a share.
The Philadelphia-based company, which became the nation’s largest cable operator following the acquisition of AT&T Broadband last November, said its revenue surged more than 106 percent to $5.52 billion from a year-earlier figure of $2.67 billion. Cash flow, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, soared nearly 103 percent to $1.64 billion.
EchoStar Posts Profit Surge
EchoStar Communications, the nation’s No. 2 satellite company, swung to a first-quarter profit of $58 million, or 12 cents per share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $35 million, or 20 cents a share, as the company’s DISH Network added 350,000 subscribers to bring the total to 8.53 million.
That subscriber growth helped lift the Littleton, Colo.-based satellite company’s revenue to $1.36 billion, a 23 percent jump over the year-ago figure of $1.10 billion. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization surged more than 56 percent to $277 million.
Henson Co. Sold to Heirs
Troubled German media company EM.TV & Advertising has sold the Jim Henson Co. to the heirs of its founder, the late Jim Henson, for $89 million-a fraction of the $680 million the company paid for the assets in February 2000. The assets include the Muppets franchise, TV shows Fraggle Rock, The Hoobs and Farscape, Henson Television, Jim Henson Pictures and Jim Henson Home Entertainment.
Since the stock market downturn, the company has sold off pieces of the Henson empire, including Sesame Street and its stake the children’s cable network Noggin. It came close two months ago to selling the remaining assets when it inked to sell a 49.9 percent stake to former UPN television head Dean Valentine. But EM.TV canceled that pact.
Turner Sells More AOL Shares
Outgoing AOL Time Warner Vice Chairman Ted Turner has sharply cut his stake in the media company, selling 60 million shares in the company through a pair of deals that yielded him close to $790 million.
The sales, which Turner said were part of an effort to diversify his holdings, were handled by Goldman Sachs. Turner directly sold a block of 50 million shares, and transferred another 10 million shares to a charitable trust that also sold the shares.
AOL said last Tuesday that Turner, who was expected to retire as vice chairman at Friday’s shareholder meeting but will remain a director, is still committed to the company and still retains 45 million shares in it.