Stock Market Today: Dish Boosts Profit While Charter Adds Subscribers

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Investors can expect a positive start to the stock market today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) gained 25 points, or 0.16%, in pre-market trading. World markets ticked up overnight, approaching the highs they set on Dec. 31. While the Dow has dropped 2% since that date, the index is 130% above where it sat at the worst of the financial crisis almost exactly five years ago.

Next up on the economic calendar is a new reading on the housing market from the National Association of Realtors, which should show that sales of previously owned homes fell by 4% last month, to an annual pace of 4.67 million. That report is due out at 10 a.m EST. 

Meanwhile, news is breaking this morning on several stocks that could see heavy trading in today's session, including Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH  ) , Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR  ) , and Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA  ) .

Dish Network today announced that sales rose by 5.5% for its full 2013 fiscal year, to $13.9 billion. The satellite TV provider only managed to add 1,000 net new subscribers over the year, compared to an 89,000 user gain in 2012. Still, the company booked full-year earnings of $1.76 a share, which was a 25% improvement from the prior year's haul and higher than Wall Street expected. Dish's average monthly revenue per user also improved thanks to price increases, to more than $80 versus compared $77 in 2012. Dish's stock is up 4.4% in pre-market trading.

Charter Communications said today that fourth-quarter revenue grew by 5% to $2.1 billion. The nation's fourth-largest cable operator lost 2,000 video subscribers last quarter, which was a strong improvement from the 36,000 user loss in the year-ago period. Meanwhile, the company sped up its rate of growth in the high-speed Internet market, gaining almost 100,000 new subscribers. Charter's improving results helped the company book a surprisingly strong profit of $0.35 a share, above the $0.24 that analysts expected. The stock is up 1.8% in pre-market trading.

Finally, Starz this morning booked a 2% decline in quarterly revenue to $415 million, while analysts were expecting a 2% rise instead. Profit rose by just 3% to $117 million as results were hurt by extra marketing expenses aimed at promoting Starz's new original show Black Sails. The spending seems to have paid off, though, as the show attracted 2.9 million viewers through its first three episodes to become Starz's strongest original series launch yet. The company expects to boost its original programming portfolio to more than 65-75 hours in the next few years. Starz's stock is up 2.2% in pre-market trading.

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