DIRECTV Beats Estimates, Announces Share Buyback
The largest U.S. satellite TV company, El Segundo, California-based DIRECTV Group (NASDAQ: DTV – $75.01), reported fourth-quarter results above analysts’ estimates as it made more from each subscriber in the North American market, despite U.S. net subscriber additions that dropped almost 10% to 93,000. The company is focusing on what it called “higher quality subscribers” in a mature market. The number of new customers in Latin America, the company’s largest growth driver, fell about 65% to 231,000. For the period, net income fell to $810 million, or $1.53 per share vs. an adjusted $1.41 per share, a year earlier on a lower share count. Revenue rose 7% to $8.59 billion. Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.28 per share on revenue of $8.47 billion. For the full year, DTV earned $5.42 vs. $4.58 in 2012 and the consensus for this year is around $5.78. In addition to the earnings news, DTV authorized a new $3.5 billion share repurchase program. With the ongoing consolidation in the cable TV market, there is continued speculation that DIRECTV will merge with DISH Network, but even on a standalone basis, I would hold onto DIRECTV shares for further long-term capital gains.