Mixed Q4 For Dish

Net New Subs Miss Targets, Revenue In Line

Dish Network added fewer than expected net new customers in the fourth quarter, but the satellite TV giant was closer to analysts’ estimates for financial metrics and disclosed for the first time its broadband customer numbers.

Dish added 14,000 net new customers in the period, well below analysts’ consensus estimates of 46,000 additions. For the first time, Dish disclosed its broadband subscriber metrics, adding that it signed up 78,000 dishNET high-speed data customers in the period, bringing its total number of customers to about 183,000. Dish launched dishNET last September.

Revenue at the second largest satellite TV service provider fell 1.2% to $3.59 billion, slightly better than analysts’ consensus of $3.56 billion. Net income was down 33.2% to $209 million or about 44 cents per share, from $313 million in the prior year. However, excluding one-time charges, earnings per share would have been about 50 cents in the quarter, in line with consensus estimates.

Dish blamed the revenue and EPS declines on higher programming costs, increased subscriber acquisition costs and certain one-time items, including the settlement of its Voom litigation last year.

For the full year, Dish added about 89,000 net new customers, a stark improvement over the loss of 166,000 net subscribers in 2011.

“In addition to the landmark introductions of our Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR, the successful launch of dishNET and the developments with our wireless spectrum, one of our key stories of the year was the change in our customer trajectory,” said Dish CEO Joseph Clayton said in a statement.

So far, investors seemed unfazed by the results – the stock was up about 34 cents each (1%) to $36.43 per share in early trading Wednesday.

In a note to clients Wednesday morning, Morgan Stanley media analyst Ben Swinburne wrote that financial results were in-line at the satellite TV giant, but noted that uncertainties remain on its wireless spectrum plans. Dish owns several large blocks of wireless spectrum that it has said it hopes to build out with a partner. 

“How Dish chooses to use its spectrum - either to enter the competitive wireless space or monetize via a sale - remains the key source of uncertainty and likely depends on factors outside of Dish's direct control,” Swinburne wrote.

Dish is scheduled to have a conference call with analysts to discuss the results at noon today.