OWN SUFFERS HUGE LOSSES
Discovery Communications reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, hurt by losses at the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), sending its shares down 5.5 percent in morning trading.
OWN, the joint venture with the “queen of talk” that is struggling with lackluster ratings, was part of the reason Discovery reported a nearly 30 percent decline in first-quarter earnings.
“We have a long way to go,” Discovery President and Chief Executive David Zaslav said on a conference call with analysts about OWN. “We remain confident in the growth potential of this network.”
OWN has slashed costs by cutting 30 employees and canceling its heavily hyped Rosie O’Donnell talk show. It recently came out with a new slate of reality shows to help the network find its legs.
Discovery expects the network to achieve cash flow break- even during the second half of 2013, Zaslav said on the call.
First-quarter earnings per share of 57 cents missed analysts’ average forecast of 60 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The challenges at OWN overshadowed Discovery’s overall revenue growth boosted by strong ad sales and distribution deals with the likes of Amazon and Netflix for its content from other cable networks such as Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet.
“I thought the results were outstanding,” Morningstar analyst Michael Corty said, citing the increases at its domestic and international divisions. “The Oprah issue — that shouldn’t be a surprise, it takes time for a network like that to grow.”