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Time Warner posts 44 pct jump in 3rd-qtr net income, backs full-year outlook

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Time Warner on Wednesday posted a big jump in third-quarter net income, helped by continued popularity of its cable network shows.

Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes said the company saw a significant payoff during the recent quarter on its programing investments at TNT and TBS, with both networks receiving some of the highest ratings among key cable TV audiences.

The networks accounted for four of the top 10 scripted shows on advertising-supported cable, while "The Big Bang Theory," which is produced by the company's Warner Bros. division, continued to draw audiences to TBS.

Despite the earnings jump, the media and entertainment company chose to back its previous profit guidance for the full year, rather than raise it. Time Warner Inc. shares edged up in midday trading.

John Martin, Time Warner's chief financial and administrative officer, acknowledged on the company's conference call with investors that the guidance implies flat adjusted fourth-quarter results, but noted that the company faces tough year-ago comparisons at Warner Bros. and continuing financial pressures at the publishing arm.

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, Time Warner earned $1.18 billion, or $1.26 per share, up from $822 million, or 84 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2012.

Excluding one-time charges, its adjusted profit from continuing operations was $1.01 per share.

Revenue was flat at $6.86 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $6.94 billion in revenue.

Revenue from the company's cable networks rose 5 per cent to $3.5 billion, as advertising revenue rose 11 per cent, helped by the growth at its U.S. cable networks.

Time Warner noted that TNT's "Rizzoli & Isles" and "Major Crimes" series remained two of the top rated among original, scripted cable shows.

Meanwhile, revenue at the company's Warner Bros. film and TV entertainment division fell 7 per cent to $2.7 billion, mainly as a result of tough comparisons to a prior-year period boosted by revenue from the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."

Revenue at Time Warner's publishing division, which the company plans to spin off eventually, edged down 2 per cent to $818 million.

Bewkes said on the conference call that Time Warner plans to make initial filings in the next few weeks and expects to complete the spin off in the second quarter of next year.

New York-based Time Warner Inc. also said Tuesday that it still expects its full-year 2013 earnings per share to rise by a "mid-teens" percentage.

The company's shares edged up 19 cents to $68.42 in midday trading. Its shares have risen almost 43 per cent so far this year.

The Canadian Press

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