AMC Networks First-Quarter Earnings Rise

 Gene Page/AMC

AMC Networks on Thursday posted increased first-quarter earnings amid higher advertising and affiliate fee revenue.

The cable networks company, led by CEO Joshua Sapan, reported a quarterly profit of $43.2 million, compared with $29.8 million in the year-ago period. Earnings from continuing operations rose to $43 million from $30 million.

Revenue rose 19.5 percent to $326 million driven by a 29.7 percent increase in advertising revenue. Affiliate fee and other revenue grew 15 percent, which benefit from increased international distribution. The results exceeded Wall Street estimates.

The growth in revenue outweighed higher operating expenses that were "primarily attributable to higher programming and marketing expenses," the company said.

Cable operator Cablevision Systems spun off AMC Networks, home to AMC and its Mad Men and The Walking Dead franchises, IFC, Sundance Channel, WE tv and IFC Films, last year. Both companies are controlled by the Dolan family.

"2012 got off to a strong start for AMC Networks, with double digit increases" in key financial metrics, said Sapan. "Continued viewer enthusiasm for our programming resulted in ratings gains for our national networks, most notably AMC's The Walking Dead, which ended its second season with 9 million total viewers, an increase of 50 percent over last season's finale."

He highlighted that "the series reigns as the highest-rated scripted drama in basic cable history in advertiser's key demos." And the fifth season of Mad Men currently ranks as the most watched season of the show ever. "These successes underscore the strength of our original programming strategy, which continues to drive audience and advertiser demand for our networks," Sapan said.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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