Listening to the Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) Q3 earnings call now … I’ll spare you the blow by blow, focusing instead on what stands out.
Outgoing CEO Dick Parsons’s main talking point: Time Warner is “squarely on track.” He saved comments about AOL for last – saying that the unit also is “on track” to meet the recently lowered expectations and reiterating his confidence in the company. Unfortunately, it also will be meeting expectations of continued decreases in ad revenue growth. Parsons told analysts: “AOL’s advertising growth may be a little of a disappointment … but we are pleased with the effort AOL has been making. … We remain confident in our ability to create long-term value with AOL.” They’ll have the chance in a few minutes to ask incoming CEO Jeff Bewkes if he agrees.
And, in fact, Bewkes gets the first question and a chance to explain his thoughts on AOL. It’s a very long answer. The gist: We’ve made a lot of changes. “We think it will take more than one quarter to see the benefit of those changes but we think its going in the right direction.” (Bewkes later referred to his “long-winded answer.”)
Acquisitions: Parsons: “There’s nothing that moves in our space that we haven’t looked at.” If Time Warner didn’t buy the property, it wasn’t a good fit. Bewkes adds that they’ll continue to look at anything that aids strategic goals.
Structure: No matter how hard Jessica Reif Cohen tries, Bewkes isn’t going to telegraph in advance any changes that are coming in the way TWX is structured. The overall plan is to grow each of the major sectors.
Quigo: Bewkes: the acquisition rounds out AOL’s ad targeting abilities.
More on AOL: Bewkes said he thinks AOL’s margins still have room for growth. Facing some questions from Rich Greenfield of Pali Research, Bewkes couldn’t resist addressing the analyst’s drive to remake Time Warner: “I’d like to thank you for all the suggestions you’ve been offering over the past months.”
Style differences: What are the differences in style between Parsons and Bewkes? The latter said he doesn’t know how to answer the question. Parsons chimed in: “He’s smarter.” Seriously, he really can’t answer the question directly, describing the style of managing the company as “an open, ongoing discussion.”