Liberty Reports Mixed Results In Q1


Liberty Media, fresh off its announcement Monday that it would restructure its Liberty Entertainment tracker, reported mixed first-quarter results Friday, with continued weakness at its QVC shopping channel offset by strong growth at its Starz Entertainment division.
Liberty is split into three groups -- Liberty Interactive, consisting of QVC and other online assets; Liberty Entertainment, made up of primarily of Starz, Liberty Sports Group regional sports networks, and interests in other networks; and Liberty Capital, consisting mainly of Starz Media and passive interests in several publicly traded companies.
For the quarter, revenue at Liberty Interactive was down 6% to $1.8 billion and adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization fell 15%, fueled mainly by declines at QVC.
QVC continued to be battered by the weak economy and troubles in the retail sector in general, with revenue down 10% to $1.6 billion and operating income before depreciation and amortization down 18% to $319 million.
In a statement, QVC CEO Mike George said that the global recession affected channels domestically and internationally. But he added that QVC has adjusted its product offerings and air time mix to focus on growing categories and pull back on weaker ones.
"We introduced numerous new product brands and programming initiatives to engage our customers, and these actions are starting to take hold as the US first quarter decline in net revenue slowed compared to the fourth quarter last year," George said in the statement. "QVC continues to strategically invest in infrastructure technology enhancements that will enable us to improve the overall customer experience while maintaining a proactive approach to cost control, inventory management and credit extension."
At Liberty Entertainment, revenue grew 19% to $369 million and AOIBDA increased 63% to $132 million, primarily because of gains at Starz and the inclusion of the Liberty Sports Group.
At Starz, revenue rose 8% to $296 million and adjusted OIBDA rose 46% to $108 million, driven by rate increases and growth in subscription units. Starz and Encore, its two main service offering, grew subscriptions by 8% and 2%, respectively, in the period.
At Liberty Capital, revenue rose 37% to $125 million while AOIBDA declined 46%, primarily due to the difference in theatrical and home video revenue and related expenses associated with films released by Overture Films in 2008.