Direct TV grows in Latin America with 842.000 new customers this year

DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite- television provider, projected accelerating subscriber gains for this quarter, signaling the company may keep winning customers at the expense of cable-TV carriers.

DirecTV expects to add a net 200,000 U.S. subscribers in the fourth quarter, Chief Executive Officer Mike White said at the company’s investor event in New York today. Last quarter, DirecTV added a net 174,000 U.S. customers.

The company is also the largest pay-TV operator in Latin America, with a third of its sales growth coming from market- share gains, said Bruce Churchill, DirecTV president for the region.

DirecTV has added a net 842,000 customers in Latin America this year, with sales of $2.6 billion and an operating profit before depreciation and amortization of $822 million. The company predicted sales and earnings growth of 20 percent for Latin America next year, with both increasing in the low-to-mid teens in 2012 and 2013.

“Our competitive advantages are sustainable,” Churchill said. “The opportunity is large and growing.”

The focus on users with higher disposable incomes has helped DirecTV increase sales in a sluggish economy. Its gains contrast with basic-video customer declines at cable carries, which together lost 741,000 users last quarter, according to research firm SNL Kagan.

“DirecTV is well-positioned for continued success,” White said. “We are confident we have a winning strategy.” DirecTV is on track for the best quarter of the year in terms of sales and customer gains, he said.

DirecTV, based in El Segundo, California, will boost its earnings to $5 a share on sales of $30 billion in 2013, White predicted. For this year, analysts project earnings of $2.36 a share on sales of $24 billion.

U.S. operating profit before depreciation and amortization will grow in the low-to-mid single digits in 2011 and the mid- to-upper single digits in 2012 and 2013. By 2013, DirecTV aims to have 30 million customers, up from about 27 million now.

DirecTV is also adding new features to lure new subscribers and keep existing ones. Next quarter, it will unveil an application for Apple Inc.’s iPad that lets customers search a customized TV guide, program their DVRs, and use the device as a remote control. DirecTV is also working to integrate social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter into the TV-watching experience.