Time Warner Quarterly Earnings Beat Estimates Thanks to 'It,' 'Game of Thrones'

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Jeff Bewkes

The entertainment conglomerate won't hold an earnings call this quarter owing to its planned sale to telecom giant AT&T, which has yet to secure regulatory approval.

Time Warner, the entertainment conglomerate behind Warner Bros., HBO and the Turner TV networks, reported third-quarter earnings that exceeded Wall Street estimates on Thursday, thanks to the box-office success of It and Game of Thrones on HBO.

Time Warner has agreed to be acquired by telecom giant AT&T for $85.4 billion and as a result won't hold an earnings conference call for the latest quarter. In a press release, the media giant said it "continues to expect its pending merger with AT&T to close before year-end 2017." 

The company, led by CEO Jeffrey Bewkes, reported adjusted earnings from continuing operations of $1.82 per share, against a year-earlier $1.83 per share. The earnings line during the latest quarter beat a Wall Street consensus estimate of $1.53 per share.

Operating income increased 11 percent to $2.2 billion and adjusted operating income jumped 13 percent to $2.3 billion on increases at all operating divisions.

Overall revenues grew 6 percent to $7.6 billion. Analysts forecast consensus overall revenues at Time Warner of $7.41 billion.

The Turner unit saw overall revenue rise to $2.76 billion, against a year-earlier $2.6 billion, while operating income was $1.24 billion. HBO, which did well during the latest quarter with the seventh season of Game of Thrones concluding, saw revenue also grow to $1.6 billion, on operating income rising to $552 million.

Time Warner and AT&T have so far failed to win over the Department of Justice on their $85 billion merger. Both companies recently agreed to extend their merger agreement to secure final regulatory approval.

It had been assumed the deal would close in the first week of October. The combination of AT&T and Time Warner will create a media-telecommunications firm that is much larger than Comcast, the giant cable TV distributor that purchased NBCUniversal five years ago.

It also makes AT&T a major media power player after its acquisition last year of DirecTV for $48.5 billion. Once the merger is completed, AT&T's top entertainment executive, John Stankey, is expected to run Time Warner, giving him control of CNN, HBO, Turner Broadcasting and the Warner Bros. TV and film studio.