Time Warner, the entertainment conglomerate behind Warner Bros., HBO and the Turner TV networks that has agreed to be acquired by AT&T for $85.4 billion, on Wednesday reported improved first-quarter earnings that exceeded Wall Street estimates.
The company, led by CEO Jeffrey Bewkes, reported adjusted earnings of $1.66 per share, compared with $1.49 in the year-ago period and the $1.44 Wall Street consensus estimate.
Analysts expected the company's film unit's profitability to be down from the first quarter of 2016, HBO to be up and Turner to remain roughly unchanged. Instead, Turner posted an adjusted profit decline, while HBO and Warner Bros. recorded higher profits in the latest period. HBO reached record quarterly operating income and adjusted operating income.
"We're off to a strong start to 2017, as we continue to benefit from the investments we're making in the best content while also developing new revenue streams that will drive growth and meet consumer demand for great experiences built around their favorite programming and brands," Bewkes said. "Looking ahead, we remain on track, pending completion of regulatory reviews and receipt of consents, to close our merger with AT&T Inc. before the end of 2017. We remain excited about the potential for this combination to accelerate the pace of innovation in our businesses."
In terms of the quarterly results, Bewkes praised HBO, saying: "Home Box Office shined in the quarter highlighted by our limited series Big Little Lies, which was both a critical and cultural breakout. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver is having its most-watched season to date, and we recently had the much anticipated returns of Silicon Valley and Veep."
And addressing the film and cable TV networks units, he said: "Warner Bros. delighted audiences in both film and television, with global hits in Kong: Skull Island and The Lego Batman Movie and more series across broadcast for the current season than any other studio. Turner had another successful airing of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament across platforms, while CNN grew its total day ratings by 21 percent among adults 25-54."
CNN's performance and outlook amid the strong ratings for news networks early in President Donald Trump's tenure are also expected to get some attention on the earnings call.
More to come.