DirecTV subs jump; '09 growth revised

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DirecTV breezed past first-quarter subscriber-growth expectations, adding 460,000 net new users — its biggest quarterly U.S. user gain in four years — as it posted a lower quarterly profit.

Management of the satellite TV giant Thursday also raised its 2009 U.S. subscriber growth estimate from the mid-800,000 range to more than 1 million.

Net income attributable to the company fell 46% to $201 million, and operating profit decreased 35% to $424 million.

Revenue rose 7% to $4.9 billion as net U.S. subscriber gains rose 67% compared with the year-ago period, helped by promotions and a recently started exclusive marketing and bundling partnership with telecom giant AT&T, which previously worked with DirecTV competitor Dish Network. The gain left DirecTV's U.S. subscriber base at 18.1 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," CEO Chase Carey said.

Carey said he's bullish on the company's position during the recession. A number of economists and industry observers have argued that the worst of the downturn is behind the U.S. (partialdiff)
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