DirecTV Profit Jumps on Record Latin American Subscribers

DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) reported on Thursday a much stronger-than-expected 19% jump in its first-quarter profit, led by record membership in its Latin American markets and continued growth in the U.S.

First-quarter revenue for the provider of digital television services was $6.32 billion, up 13% from $5.61 billion a year ago, beating the Street’s view of $6.23 billion.

Sales in the satellite TV provider's U.S. segment climbed 8% to $5.15 billion, cushioned by a 3.9% increase in prices on programming packages and leased boxes. The company’s Latin American division enjoyed a 55% increase in gross additions to an all-time high of 765,000, partially offset by higher subscriber acquisitions costs.

“Building on the momentum of one of our best years ever, DirecTV delivered another strong quarter of operating and financial results,” said Mike White, the company’s chief executive.

The El Segundo, Calif.-based company posted net income of $683 million, or 85 cents a share, compared with $575 million, or 59 cents a share, in the same quarter last year, ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of 71 cents.

Despite the strong performance, concerns surrounding the future of the upcoming NFL season continue to haunt DirecTV, which reaps a large profit from its exclusive “NFL Sunday Ticket,” a TV package that carries just about every professional football game.

No matter how the league emerges from the lockout, DirecTV has said it will still have to pay the NFL $1 billion a year, though if the entire season is missed, it will be able to add on an extra season at the end of its contract. If only a few games are skipped, it will likely get a reduced rate for the season.