Discovery Profits Boosted By International Business

Discovery’s profits jumped as international acquisitions paid off in the fourth quarter.

Net income rose 29% to $289 million, or 81 cents per share, from $224 million, or 61 cents per share a year ago. Revenue rose 28% to $1.537 billion.

“Discovery’s strong 2013 results reflect the additional market share we are capturing around the globe as we further invest in our diverse content portfolio and capitalize on the growth opportunities available across the unmatched worldwide distribution platform we have developed,” David Zaslav, president and CEO said in a statement. “At the same time, the strength of our balance sheet enabled us to make several strategic investments that complement our existing businesses and further bolster the long-term growth profile of the company, while also providing us with the ability to return significant capital to shareholders."

Zaslav added: "As we move into 2014, we remain focused on maintaining the financial momentum we have generated consistently over the past several years while further investing in our brands and strategic growth initiatives so we can deliver additional shareholder value moving forward.”

Adjusted operating income at Discovery’s U.S. cable networks was up 5% to $434 million. Revenues grew 5% to $740 million. Distribution revenue was up 7% to $309 million and advertising revenue increased 4% to $411 million.

Discovery’s joint venture with Oprah Winfrey appeared to have had a good quarter as well. Discovery said income from equity investments was $27 million, compared to a loss of $10 million a year ago.

Discovery’s international operations jumped partly because of acquisitions. Adjusted operating income was up 47% to $295 million as revenue rose 64%. Excluding newly acquired businesses and foreign currency fluctuations, Discovery said its international revenues were up 14% and its operating income was up 21%.

Discovery said its board approved a $1.5 billion increase to its existing stock repurchase programming, bringing the total authorization to $5.5 billion. The company bought 4.3 million shares of stock for $336 million during the fourth quarter.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.