AMC Networks Second-Quarter Earnings Exceed Estimates

Justina Mintz/AMC
'Mad Men'

The cable networks company, led by CEO Josh Sapan, posts its latest financials.

AMC Networks, led by CEO Josh Sapan, on Thursday reported better-than-expected second-quarter financials amid the company's continued focus on original programming.

The owner of such cable networks as AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel and WE tv posted earnings from continuing operations of $83 million, compared with $60 million in the year-ago period. Earnings per share came in at $1.14, compared with 83 cents in the year-ago period.

Adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization, another profitability metric, rose 21.9 percent to $191 million. Quarterly revenue rose 15.1 percent to $601 million. Wall Street analysts had, on average, predicted earnings of $64.2 million, or 87-88 cents per share, on revenue of $588.3 million.

Second-quarter revenue growth was led by a 29.3 percent increase in distribution revenue to $303 million, "primarily attributable to increases in affiliate fees, including the inclusion of BBC America, as well as increases in digital, licensing and home video revenues."

Advertising revenue rose 13.4 percent to $186 million. "The growth in advertising revenues reflected the inclusion of BBC America in the current year period as well as strong growth at WE tv, IFC and SundanceTV," the company said.

Originals falling into the latest period included the final half-season of Mad Men. Analysts have said the show got $1 million per spot for its finale. Other second-quarter originals included the second season of Turn and half a season of Halt and Catch Fire.

"In addition to maintaining our core content strategy, we have become more of an owner of content," said Sapan. "We have closely aligned ourselves with a premier producer of content through our BBC America joint venture; and we have expanded our global distribution footprint to include 140 countries and territories. This strategic approach has enabled us to diversify our sources of revenue and has set us up well for an increasingly digital future, one in which consumers exercise more choice and control over every minute of television they watch. We believe this strategy will continue to allow us to create value for our shareholders in the near-, mid- and long-term."

Sapan on the earnings conference call said the company would make a decision on the future of Halt once it reviews all key performance data. He said his team likes the show just like critics, but audiences have been lower than hoped.

Discussing The Walking Dead spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, Sapan said its execution was "quite strong" and the debut later in the month had drawn much excitement from fans and advertisers.

AMC CFO Sean Sullivan said on the call that in the current quarter there was an "improved" scatter ad market with improved pricing. "Today we see very positive signs in scatter," he said.