Dish Q1 Earnings Beat Estimates, Stock Price Down

Dish Network's first-quarter earnings -- which initially looked good to analysts -- yield strong pre-market trading for its stock. But after the markets opened, things went south.

Pre-market stock activity had Dish’s stock up 4.2% -- but mid-day Wednesday trading of Dish stock witnessed it sinking 2% to $48.30.

Dish’ first-quarter revenue was up nearly 2% to $3.79 billion from $3.72 billion, with net income rising 11% to $389 million from $351 million for the same period a year before. Analysts say those profit results beat estimates.

Overall, Dish’s net pay TV subscribers declined 23,000 in the first quarter compared to a gain of 35,000 in the first quarter of 2015.

Dish includes all of its Sling TV subscribers -- its over-the-top digital TV service -- in the company’s total pay TV measures. MoffettNathanson says Sling TV added 129,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter, totaling 523,000 subscribers after that period.

Dish is in the middle of a battle with one of its big cable network groups that it carries, Viacom -- which may be dropped after Wednesday night, due to carriage renewal disagreement.

Todd Juenger, senior media analyst at Bernstein Research, says if Viacom is dropped it would mean “around round of massive cost cuts” at the company.

On the flip side: “It is much easier for us to believe Dish would be OK without Viacom (as long as they don't lose 15% more subscribers), but Viacom would not be OK without Dish.”

Dish closed the first quarter with 13.874 million overall pay TV subscribers (including Sling TV), compared to 14.013 million pay TV subscribers at the end of first quarter 2015.

The average cost for Dish customers for the first quarter was $87.94, compared $85.73 in the same period a year before.

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