Dish Network Profit, Subs Rise in Fourth Quarter

UPDATED: The satellite TV giant beat Wall Street estimates as it added 22,000 subscribers in the latest period, but lost 166,000 users for the full year 2011.

NEW YORK - Dish Network on Thursday reported improved fourth-quarter financials and subscriber momentum that exceeded Wall Street expectations.

The satellite TV giant, led by CEO Joseph Clayton and chairman Charlie Ergen, posted quarterly earnings of $313 million, up 24 percent from the year-ago period.

Revenue rose 13 percent to $3.63 billion.

Dish added about 22,000 subscribers in the quarter, ending 2011 with 13.97 million users. In the fourth quarter of 2010, the company had lost 156,000 users, and Wall Street had on average only expected a minimal gain for the latest period, with some even projecting a decline. For the full year 2011, Dish lost 166,000 net subscribers.

"The big news is that subs were positive, up 22,000 versus our 30,000 [decline] and the Street's +5,000 estimates," said Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker in a first reaction. "The quarter looks good."

Clayton also signaled that subscriber momentum continues in the first quarter, mentioning that the company just crossed the 14 million subscriber mark again.

The fourth-quarter sub gain was due to increased activations and improved churn, he said. Given a company price freeze this year, "the stage is set for a good churn number in 2012" as well, Clayton added.


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