Big subscriber gains were made for DirecTV, exceeding analyst expectations and pushing up its stock in mid-day trading.
The nation's largest satellite TV programming service surged with 289,000 new U.S. subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2010 -- more than double the 119,000 in the fourth quarter of 2009. Analysts were expecting some 250,000 new customers.
Worldwide, the company took on 667,000 new subscribers. Most of this increase came from U.S. and Latin American operations. This was a nearly 80% gain over the last fourth-quarter results and the highest subscriber surge in 10 years.
All this came with a reversal in the fourth quarter to profitability -- a net income of $618 million versus a $32 million net loss. That loss was related to charges of the Liberty Media merger transaction. Revenue grew 11% to $6.62 billion from $5.98 billion, just a bit higher than analysts' estimates.
The average revenue per customer climbed 4.6% to $96.64, largely due to price increases and higher revenues from advanced products, pay-per-view and premium movies as well as advertising sales.
DirecTV stock shot up 5% in mid-day trading to $46.46. DirecTV is the biggest satellite programming retailer, with 19.2 million subscribers. It is second to Comcast Corp., when it comes to all U.S. multichannel TV programming retailers.