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Don't read too much into the record profitability at TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO ) in last night's quarterly report. If it wasn't for DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH ) finally paying up after years of trampling over the DVR pioneer's patents, we'd actually be discussing TiVo's 10th consecutive quarterly deficit.
We still have familiar problems at TiVo. The net subscriber count keeps slipping. The model itself isn't profitable. Some people still haven't gotten around to catching the disappointing House finale that they TiVo'd on Monday night.
The DISH trickle will help ease some of those concerns. Collecting $175.7 million in monetary damages that will exceed $600 million over the next few years -- and paying minimal income taxes after more than two years of accumulated deficits -- will numb the throbbing like a shot of Patron tequila at a techno club. TiVo is also actively going after AT&T (NYSE: T ) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) for violating its DVR patents with their fledgling broadband-based television services, though success is anything but assured and the potential sums are based on little more than guesswork at this point.
Moving on to the business that TiVo does control, it continues to slip -- though not as badly as Wall Street and TiVo earlier feared. Service and technology revenue slipped 10% to $38.8 million, ahead of both its original range of $36 million to $38 million and the $37.2 million that analysts were targeting.
There are now less than 2 million TiVo subscribers out there. The company shed 88,000 net subscribers during the past three months -- and a whopping 548,000 over the past year.
If it seems as if subscriber shrinkage is moving a lot faster than TiVo's revenue, you've actually stumbled across an encouraging metric. The average monthly revenue that TiVo is milking out of each subscriber -- whether it's one of the 1.2 million couch potatoes that it directly services or the balance that come through its third-party partners -- is up nicely over the past year.
Lazard Capital Markets did upgrade the stock after the report, introducing a $13 price target.
TiVo still has a long way to go. Its guidance calls for more red ink during the current quarter. However, its revenue outlook and projected deficit is better than what Wall Street was banking on this time.
TiVo's "profitable" quarter may be a facade, but it may not be as far as worrywarts believe from turning the corner.
What will it take for TiVo to win back its Mojo? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.