Time Warner Turns In Strong Q4 But DVD Sales, Magazine Subs Take A Hit

Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) beat revenue and earnings estimates, but the fine print has a few items that aren’t so rosy. Following the same pattern as the rest of the year, Q4’s positive results came from the film and cable networks divisions, while publishing revenues were down, though the double digit declines of Q409 were greatly reduced.

Publishing: Granted, a 4 percent drop in publishing revenues isn’t that bad, especially when a small amount of it is due to switching P&L for SI.com and Golf.com internally.

For the full year, publishing revenues fell only 2 percent, reflecting the wider recovery in ad spending — ad dollars were up 3 percent at Time Inc. — and the relative weakness of magazines. Hopes for getting consumers to pay more for content also look a little thin, judging by the full year’s figures, as subscription revenues slipped 2 percent. As for the quarter, subscription revenues declined 7 percent while ad sales dropped 1 percent.

Networks: The division that houses Turner Broadcasting and HBO saw revenues rise 14 percent in Q4 and 11 percent for the full year. In contrast to the anemic growth for Time Warner’s magazines, advertising at the networks was up 2 percent in Q4 and 14 percent for 2010 in total. And while this probably doesn’t mean anything in the current debate over cord-cutting, subscription dollars grew 9 percent in the quarter and 8 percent for the year.

Filmed entertainment: Thanks to Harry Potter on the filmed side, and Two And A Half Men on the Warner Brothers television licensing end, the segment had a pretty strong quarter and a decent year. Revenues gained 10 percent in Q4 and 5 percent over the course of 2010. One trouble spot: lower home video sales, which were down for the year by 3 percent.