Is It Time to Consider Time Warner?
When assessing Time Warner's current standing amongst its peers, which include names such as Disney (DIS) and Comcast (CMCSA) , it becomes clear the stock is undervalued. However, upon the company's Q3 earnings report, which I felt were "mixed," I'm thinking I might need to curb my enthusiasm -- but for how long?
The Quarter That Was
For the fiscal third-quarter ending Sept. 30, the company reported net income of $838 million, or 86 cents per share. Not only was this higher than analysts' estimates of 82 cents, but it represented year-over-year growth of over 2% -- helped by strong performances in the company's cable division.
On the other hand, revenue was a disappointment -- falling 3% to $6.84 billion and missing analysts' estimates of $6.89 billion. The company experienced worse-than-expected declines in its film and TV entertainment and publishing segments, which served to offset solid growth in its network segment.
Consequently, Time Warner's adjusted operating income also declined by 1% to $1.6 billion. This is even though margins arrive flat year-over-year.
Overall, this was a good quarter for the media giant. With its performance, Time Warner remains on track for another solid year. The company has produced on average 3.3% growth in net income spanning back the last five quarters.
In terms of outlook, aside from expecting low double-digit growth from a base of $2.89, which the company earned last year, Time Warner remained steadfast in its previous projections -- keeping outlook for the fiscal year the same. But the company did say that its film "Argo" was doing quite well at the box office and it expects ticket sales from the movie to help boost revenues in the current quarter. Also in pipeline is the highly anticipated release of "The Hobbit" next month.
While listening to the conference call, it was clear that the company's management understands not only where the company is today, but where it needs to be in the future. In discussing the third-quarter performance, Time Warner's CEO, Jeff Bewkes said: "This performance illustrates that our investments in content and technology are continuing to pay off."
I have to agree with Bewkes as there have been very few media companies that have matched Time Warner in terms of capital re-investments.
One area where the company has made a considerable amount of investment is in its "TV Everywhere" initiative as it tries to capitalize on the growth of mobile devices. To that end, Time Warner has recently formed partnerships with Comcast and Viacom (VIAB) to allow subscribers access to some of its most popular channels at no extra cost.