New York – Time Warner Inc. (TWX) on Wednesday reported an 80 percent jump in third-quarter profit, beating analyst expectations, as high-speed Internet and digital phone services drew more subscribers and online advertising sales increased.
Addressing concerns by billionaire activist Carl Icahn (search), Time Warner also said it more than doubled its stock buyback commitment to $12.5 billion from $5 billion.
The world's largest media company said earnings rose to $897 million, or 19 cents per share, from $499 million, or 11 cents per share, a year earlier.
The New York-based owner of HBO, the Warner Brothers movies studio and Time magazine beat analysts' expectations of 17 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.
In third quarter 2004, earnings were $494 million, or 10 cents per share, excluding a $500 million legal reserve and gains on investments and divestitures.
Revenue rose 6 percent to $10.5 billion.
Although revenue at AOL fell 5 percent, primarily from a drop in dial-up subscribers, online advertising revenue rose 28 percent, factoring in its Advertising.com purchase last year. AOL lost 678,000 subscribers in the quarter, ending the period with 20.1 million.
Cable revenue rose 13 percent, boosted by a 24 percent increase in high-speed Internet subscriber revenue. Average revenue per basic cable subscriber rose 13 percent to $86. The cable division added 18,000 basic subscribers, ending the quarter with 10.9 million subscribers.
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Batman Begins" helped drive film studio revenue up 6 percent.
The company is in the process of courting Microsoft Corp. (MFST), Google Inc. (GOOG) and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) to sell off a minority stake in its AOL division.
Time Warner stock has fallen more than 8 percent since the beginning of the year, underperforming the Standard & Poor's 500 index, which is down only 2 percent, but holding up better than its media peers.