A decline in home entertainment sales at Time Warner's studio division, Warner Bros., pushed earnings and revenue at the media giant down slightly to end 2014, even as HBO and Turner continued to be the main engines driving the entertainment company.
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Revenues at Time Warner fell 1% to $7.53 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014, while adjusted operating income decreased 10% to $1.6 billion. Earnings per share at the company dropped to 98 cents compared to $1.07 for the year-ago quarter.
That still beat Wall Street's expectations; analysts were projecting earnings of 94 cents per share. However, revenue missed the mark. The company was expected to generate $7.55 billion for the quarter.
As a boon to investors, Time Warner upped its quarterly dividend by 10% to $0.35 per share.
"We're committed to building on our strong record of providing direct returns to shareholders," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes in a statement.
Warner Bros. closed the year on a high note with the global blockbuster, "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." However, the studio struggled last summer, releasing box office disappointments such as "Edge of Tomorrow" and "Jersey Boys" and modest hits such as "Tammy." Those couldn't compete with the home entertainment releases of "Man of Steel," "Pacific Rim" and "The Hangover Part III," not to mention the videogame release of "Batman: Arkham Origins," all of which hit during the final quarter of 2014. Adjusted operating income decreased 32% to $391 million.
Turner's revenues climbed 2% to $2.6 billion thanks to a rise in subscription fees. That offset a modest 1% dip in advertising revenues. The television unit attributed the slowdown in ad sales to lower ratings for Major League Baseball playoff games.
HBO also finished the year on a high note, as revenues increased 6% to $1.3 billion, on the strength of a 5% jump in subscription revenues and the rising cost of its packages.
Full-year revenues increased 3% from 2013 to $27.4 billion, while adjusted operating income declined 6% from 2013 to $5.8 billion. Some of the decline in profitability was attributed to Turner's decision to cancel certain programs and layoffs across the various divisions. Time Warner has been cutting jobs across the company in an effort to streamline its operations and cut its workforce.
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