DirecTV to report its 4th-quarter results Thursday

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

DirecTV to report 4Q earnings

PHILADELPHIA — DirecTV Inc., the nation’s largest satellite TV operator, reports its fourth-quarter results before the market opens on Thursday.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Whether the company continues to add subscribers and whether competition is prompting more discounting, which can hurt profitability without a reduction in costs.

DirecTV, based in El Segundo, Calif., was spun off in November and combined with certain entertainment assets of Liberty Media Corp., which is headed by media mogul John Malone.

Investors will also be looking for word from CEO Michael White, the former Pepsico executive chosen by Malone to lead DirecTV, on where DirecTV is headed.

WHY IT MATTERS: With about 90 percent of the nation’s TV-viewing households subscribing to satellite TV, cable or video services from a phone company, there’s not a big share of market left to grab. Growth in subscribers mainly comes from poaching customers from a competitor.

Unlike cable, DirecTV has been increasing its subscriber rolls while cable has been losing ground. One of its savvier moves is its exclusive offer of the NFL Sunday Ticket, which airs professional football games from other cities. Its contract with the NFL runs through the 2014 season.

WHAT’S EXPECTED: Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect DirecTV to earn 42 cents per share in the fourth quarter on revenue of $5.92 billion.

LAST YEAR’S QUARTER: DirecTV earned 32 cents per share on revenue of $5.31 billion.

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