AMC Entertainment (NASDAQ:AMCX) reported first-quarter results early Thursday morning. The small-screen content producer and distributor delivered growth across the board thanks to a mix of successful content operations and shareholder-friendly share buybacks.

Here's a closer look at AMC Networks' first quarter.

AMC's first-quarter results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q1 2018

Q1 2017

Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

$741 million

$720 million

2.9%

Net income

$157 million

$136 million

15%

GAAP earnings per share (diluted)

$2.54

$1.98

28%

Data source: AMC Networks.

What happened with AMC Networks this quarter?

  • The lion's share of AMC's earnings growth came from a lower effective tax rate and a 10.2% lower share count compared to the year-ago period. The $500 million buyback program that was launched in the spring of 2016 has $134 million of unused authorizations remaining.
  • The domestic division saw 2.9% year-over-year revenue growth overall, balancing higher distribution revenue against lower advertising sales.
  • In the international segment, total revenue rose 4.3% thanks to higher subscription sales and favorable currency exchange trends.

What management had to say

In a prepared statement, AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan noted that his company offers a unique blend of low-priced content licenses and high-quality programs. Among other effects, this approach has made AMC perhaps the most widely distributed content production studio across the major streaming video platforms in America and overseas.

"Our content continues to break through in a cluttered environment, with recent series including BBC AMERICA's Killing Eve, IFC's Brockmire, and AMC's Fear the Walking Dead and The Terror drawing wide critical acclaim and strong viewership, and our streaming services, Sundance Now and Shudder, continue to gain traction with consumers," Sapan said.

Close-up shot of a smiling Hank Azaria in the role of baseball player Jim Brockmire.

Hank Azaria as Jim Brockmire in IFC's Brockmire. Image source: IFC.

Looking ahead

The first-quarter results did not inspire AMC's management to make any changes in its full-year guidance comments. In general, the company should see single-digit percentage growth in both top-line sales and adjusted bottom-line earnings this year. National networks should deliver a sequential improvement to its ad revenue in the second quarter driven by the timing of AMC's programming slate. Content licensing to other distributors is expected to rise slightly faster than subscription sales for AMC's own cable networks.

Going forward, AMC's overarching strategy stays the same: Produce great content for a mix of exclusive in-house distribution and a larger collection of distribution partners, on whatever terms might be appropriate for each title. Flexibility is the name of the game.

Anders Bylund has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends AMC Networks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.