DirecTV Q1 profit down, subs up

Satellite TV company's user growth is strongest in years

NEW YORK -- DirecTV reported a lower first-quarter profit as it added 460,000 net new subscribers -- its highest quarterly U.S. user gain in four years.

In a conference call early Thursday afternoon, management raised its 2009 subscriber growth estimate from the mid-800,000 range to more than 1 million.

The satellite TV giant Thursday morning said net income attributable to the company fell 46% to $201 million.

Operating profit before depreciation and amortization declined 8% to $1.09 billion, and operating profit decreased 35% to $424 million.

Revenue rose 7% to $4.9 billion as U.S. net subscriber gains rose 67% over the year-ago period. That left DirecTV's U.S. user base at 18.08 million at the end of March.

"The growing momentum that we saw at the end of last year has continued into 2009 reflecting DirecTV's brand strength and unparalleled service," said president and CEO Chase Carey. "However, increased economic and competitive pressures limited our (average revenue per user) growth to 0.8% due to more promotional offers given to new and existing customers, as well as lower premium movie, pay-per-view and advertising revenues in the quarter."
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