Apparently, not all media companies are getting equally pinched by the recession. DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) reported strong fourth-quarter results this morning, including growth in revenue, operating profit before depreciation and amortization (OPBDA), and subscribers. Revenue was up 9 percent to $5.3 billion but net income dropped 5 percent to $332 million on higher costs. Still, earnings per share rose over last year to 32 cents from 30 cents. Analysts surveyed by FactSet Research expected 34 cents per share (via MarketWatch).
Plenty of positives, though, specifically:
— Net subscribers increased 461,000 (301,000 in the U.S. — the company’s best growth in 3 years)
— Operating profit before all the deducations, a favorite DirecTV measure, grew 11 percent to $1.2 billion.
— Average revenue per user was up 3.5 percent in the U.S., driven by programming price increases and HD/DVR revenue.
— DirecTV ended the year with its lowest monthly churn level in nine years — 1.47 percent.
More evidence that satellite and cable TV companies appear to be weathering the economic storm better than pure-play advertising companies, thanks to the steady subscriber and affiliate fees. Liberty Media (NSDQ: LINTA) was majority owner of DirecTV for most of 2008; News Corp (NYSE: NWS). was still majority owner in Q407.