The El Segundo, California company said it would see strong net subscriber growth in the first quarter, with gross additions at or above the year-ago period. In the first quarter of 2008, DirecTV added 275,000 net subscribers.

Chief Executive Chase Carey said that despite the economic turmoil and increasing competition, the company expects earnings per share growth of over 15 percent in 2009 on revenue growth under 10 percent.

DirecTV, which now has 17.62 million U.S. subscribers, said fourth quarter net profit fell 5 percent to $332 million from $348 million. Profit was impacted by higher marketing and customer installation costs, as well as increased depreciation expenses on its installed customer equipment such as DVRs.

Earnings per share from continuing operations rose to 31 cents from 30 cents a year earlier, when DirecTV had a higher number of outstanding shares. Wall Street analysts had on average been expecting 33 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
Revenue rose 9 percent to $5.31 billion during the quarter. Analysts had on average been expecting $5.34 billion.

Shares of DirecTV initially rose on the results, before they turned negative in a broad market downturn and ended the day down 1.24 percent at $22.30.

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