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Liberty Narrows Its Q2 Loss

Aug 15, 2004  •  Post A Comment

John Malone’s Liberty Media last week reported a narrowed second-quarter loss of $314 million compared with a year-earlier loss of $464 million, buoyed by brisk business at the company’s home shopping channel QVC as well as advertising and affiliate-fee gains at Discovery Networks. Revenue surged 290 percent to $1.8 billion, in large part as a result of Liberty’s full control of QVC, in which Liberty bought a controlling stake last year. QVC booked a 17 percent increase in revenue during the period to $1.3 billion, while Discovery’s revenue swelled to $588 million from a year-earlier level of $490 million. Starz Encore Group, meanwhile, saw revenue advance to $238 million from a year-earlier $225 million.

Theme Parks, Cable Boost Disney

The Walt Disney Co. last week reported a 20 percent surge in fiscal third-quarter earnings to $604 million for the three-month period ended June 30, vs. a year-earlier profit of $502 million, driven by growth in the media giant’s theme-park and cable-networks businesses. Revenue climbed 17 percent to $7.5 billion. Overall, the media networks division posted an 8 percent increase in revenue to $2.9 billion, while operating income rose 15 percent to $673 million, driven by higher affiliate and advertising revenue at ESPN and higher affiliate revenue at the domestic and international Disney Channels. ABC Family had higher advertising revenue. ABC, meanwhile, reported a 6 percent increase in revenue to $1.3 billion, while operating income sank 21 percent to $144 million.

Higher Expenses Hurt EchoStar

EchoStar Communications last week reported a 34 percent decline in profit to $85 million, compared with a year-earlier profit of $129 million. The company attributed the decline to higher expenses related to having more equipment on hand and marketing costs tied to signing up new customers. However, revenue rose 26 percent to $1.8 billion, driven by an increase of 340,000 customers to bring EchoStar’s total subscriber count to 10.125 million as of June 30. Chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen declined to provide a breakdown of the number of new subscribers generated from EchoStar’s bundling deal with phone company SBC Communications, but said the relationship is “off to a very solid start.” SBC said in July it had added 121,000 video subscribers as a result of the EchoStar-SBC relationship. The company also announced that its board approved a stock repurchase program of up to another $1 billion.

Crown’s Financial Results Improve

Crown Media Holdings, the owner of the Hallmark Channel, last week reported a narrowed second-quarter loss of $40.6 million, compared with year-earlier red ink of $49.4 million. Meanwhile, CEO David Evans said he was “very pleased” with offers the company has received for its international operations and added that he hopes to choose a buyer by the end of the third quarter. Revenue for the Greenwood Village, Colo.-based company climbed 23 percent to $55.8 million, driven largely by U.S. affiliate-fee and subscriber growth. The U.S. channel ended the quarter with nearly 61 million homes passed, up 17 percent from a year ago. n

-JAY SHERMAN