Media conglomerate Time Warner Inc. said Wednesday that improving results at its movie studio and cable networks boosted fourth-quarter revenue, and smaller one-time expenses helped it post a profit after reporting a loss a year ago.
The company is also raising its dividend 13 percent and increasing its stock repurchase plan.
Time Warner has been slimming down, shedding both AOL and Time Warner Cable in the past year to focus on creative content rather than the businesses that deliver it to customers.
While that strategy has yet to prove itself, the focus appears to have paid off in the fourth quarter, as Time Warner's HBO and Turner cable networks pulled in more money from subscription and affiliate fees and its Warner Bros. movie studio had success with "The Blind Side" and "Sherlock Holmes."
Time Warner, which also owns Time Inc. magazines, said it earned $627 million, or 53 cents per share, in the last three months of 2009. It lost $16 billion, or $13.41 per share, a year ago when the company was hurt by heavy write-downs on its cable, publishing and AOL assets.
Excluding one-time items from the most recent results, the company said it earned 55 cents per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who typically exclude such items, were looking for 52 cents.
Revenue rose 2 percent to $7.32 billion, beating analysts' average forecast of $7.14 billion.
Full-year earnings came to $2.47 billion, or $2.07 per share, as cost cutting and smaller accounting charges reversed a loss of $13.4 billion, or $11.23 per share.
The full-year results reflected an advertising slump that has been particularly painful for Time Warner's magazines, which include Time, People and Sports Illustrated among others. Revenue slipped to $25.79 billion from $26.52 billion.
Looking ahead, the company said it expects its earnings per share this year to grow percentage-wise in the mid-teens from an adjusted figure of $1.83. That's roughly in line with the average forecast from analysts, which calls for a full-year profit of $2.12 per share.
The company's stock rose 13 cents to $28.64 in premarket trading.
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