Discovery Posts Higher Q3 Income

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Discovery Communications' earnings jumped in the third quarter, riding a robust advertising market.

Net income increased 98% to $186 million, or 43 cents per share, from $94 million or 22 cents a share a year ago, the company said Tuesday. Net income from continuing operations was up 73% to $161 million. Revenues rose 11% to $926 million in the quarter.

"Our ability to execute, combined with a robust advertising environment, enabled us to deliver third quarter results that exceeded our expectations," said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery, in a statement. "We are committed to building the next generation of growth drivers and are producing real returns from additional investments in Animal Planet, ID and our international networks, while launching our joint ventures, The Hub and OWN. We are excited by the opportunities these investments present to further grow our business long-term and generate increased value for shareholders."

Adjusted operating income at Discovery's U.S. networks grew 12% to $346 million. Revenues at the U.S. networks rose 11% to $585 million. Ad revenues at the U.S. networks increased 16% to $304 million.

For the full year, Discovery raised its estimates, saying it expects total revenue of between $3.75 billion and $3.8 billion and net income of $650 million to $700 million.

During the company's earnings call, Zaslav noted the fast growth domestically of Investigation Discovery Animal Planet and Science.

Zaslav said he was "very pleased with the initials results of The Hub, a joint venture with Hasbro. He said The Hub's ratings were higher than Discovery Kids and that the programming is starting to resonate with target audience. He said that 50 new advertisers have come on board the channel, including many game and toy companies.

He also said Discovery was feeling good about the schedule OWN will have at launch, and some of the personalities who will be joining the network later in the year. OWN will be taking over the distribution of the Discovery Health channel, which had revenues of 80 million and operating income of $30 million last year.

While OWN will face high expectations, Zaslav noted that "every cable network takes time to find a voice . . . We are going to be listening to viewers. We have oprah.com as a way for us to hear what they like and what they don't like," he said. And if they listen, "we're going to have a big asset."

Peter Liguori, Discovery's COO, who has been working closely with OWN, added that the company expected OWN to have better ratings than Discovery Health. He added that blue-chip advertisers have made commitments to OWN, with some making multiyear deal. 

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