Liberty Media Second-Quarter Profit Rises

4:57 AM PST 08/08/2012 by Georg Szalai
Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

UPDATED: Premium TV arm Starz's bottom line declines amid higher spending on original programming, but it again hit new subscriber records.

John Malone's Liberty Media on Wednesday reported largely unchanged revenue and adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization, but its earnings rose.

Net earnings of $156 million were up sharply from $89 million in the year-ago period, while  Liberty's operating profit increased 7 percent to $101 million. Revenue of $537 million compared with $538 million in the year-ago period.

Starz, which Liberty said Wednesday it plans to spin off, saw virtually unchanged revenue of  $403 million. "The increase in revenue for the Starz Channels business was offset by decreases in revenue for the Starz Distribution and Starz Animation businesses," the firm said.

Starz's adjusted OIBDA dropped 8 percent to $108 million as a result of higher programming expenses associated with the mix of Starz original programming content.

Starz and Encore subscriptions increased by 9 percent and 4 percent, respectively, in the latest quarter.

"The Starz subscription businesses are continuing their run of quarterly subscription highs, with Starz achieving 20.7 million subscribers and Encore reaching 34.2 million at the end of the second quarter," Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said. That was up from 20.1 million and 33.6 million as of the end of the first quarter, respectively.

"We continue to add value to the networks with our investment in quality original programming," Albrecht said. Boss returns for its second season later this month. In addition, "global anticipation is building for the fourth and final installment of Spartacus in January 2013," Albrecht said. "David Goyer's new series, Da Vinci's Demons, and the second season of Magic City will round out our programming slate for the first half of 2013."

On a conference call, Albrecht reiterated that Starz would launch before year-end TV Everywhere-style authenticated online offers. And he said that Starz has about 19 percent of its subscriber base up for carriage fee renewal over the near term.

Separately, Liberty Interactive, whose core asset is home shopping network QVC, posted a five percent revenue increase to $2.4 billion in the second quarter. Operating income edged up 1 percent to $290 million.

"QVC continues to produce solid results despite a challenging macroeconomic environment.," said Liberty Interactive CEO Greg Maffei. "We have a stockholder vote later today and expect our new Liberty Ventures tracking stock to begin trading on August 10."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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