Time Warner 4Q earnings edge up, beats Street

NEW YORK (AP) ? Time Warner Inc. said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter net income grew slightly as revenue jumped 5 percent on strong performances at its Warner Bros. movie studio and its cable television networks.

Its adjusted earnings topped Wall Street expectations, and the company forecast growth for 2012 that would beat analysts’ current forecasts. Time Warner also raised its dividend by 11 percent and said it plans to expand a stock buyback program.

Its shares rose $1.19, or 3.1 percent, to $39.29 in premarket trading.

Net income rose to $773 million, or 76 cents per share, for the last three months of 2011 compared with $769 million, or 68 cents per share, a year earlier.

Adjusted for one-time items, the company earned 94 cents per share. That beat Wall Street’s expectations of 87 cents per share, according to a survey by FactSet.

Time Warner forecast growth in adjusted earnings in the low double-digit percentages. Adjusted income was $2.89 last year, meaning it could range from $3.18 to $3.32 in 2012. Analysts were expecting $3.16.

Revenue grew to $8.2 billion from $7.8 billion a year ago and beat analysts’ expectations for $8.06 billion.

Revenue in the television business grew 5 percent to $3.5 billion. The company saw a 16 percent increase in content revenue, particularly from stronger licensing revenue at Turner networks such as TBS, and a 5 percent increase in subscription revenue at channels such as HBO. Advertising revenue increased more modestly, at 2 percent.

Warner Bros. revenue grew 7 percent to $3.9 billion on stronger home entertainment and video game releases and new subscription video-on-demand agreements. That was offset partly by lower revenue from theatrical releases and television licensing fees.

Revenue at the Time Inc. publishing division fell 1 percent $1 billion.

Time Warner Inc. also says it will raise its quarterly dividend to 26 cents per share, to be paid March 15 to shareholders of record on Feb. 29.

The company also announced plans to buy back up to $4 billion in stock, on top of the nearly $5 billion it had already repurchased since the beginning of 2011. Buybacks boost the company’s stock price by concentrating profits among fewer outstanding shares.

In a statement, CEO Jeff Bewkes said both decisions reflect “our confidence and our continued commitment to strong shareholder returns.”