What happened

Shares of AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) rose today, up by 1% as of 1:20 p.m. EDT, after the company reported first-quarter earnings. The stock had gained as much as 5% earlier in the session.

So what

Revenue in the first quarter declined 6% to $734 million, which was shy of the $738.9 million in sales that analysts were expecting. The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted advertising revenue, with AMC's ad sales falling 11%. That all translated into adjusted earnings per share of $1.47, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.86 per share in adjusted profits.

Woman sitting on couch next to a dog while holding a TV remote

Image source: Getty Images.

"In what has been a unique operating environment, AMC Networks continues to generate significant levels of free cash flow and remains well capitalized with a strong balance sheet and strong liquidity," CEO Josh Sapan said in a statement. "We continue to make significant progress on our digital initiatives, including strong subscriber growth across our Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and UMC (Urban Movie Channel) SVOD services, as well as Acorn TV launching in the UK."

Now what

The media company has access to approximately $1.2 billion in total liquidity, which consists of $704 million in cash on the balance sheet and $500 million that is undrawn but available through a revolver.

Viewership is up across AMC's networks as people seek out entertainment while housebound, and AMC now expects to garner 3.5 million to 4 million paid subscribers across its four subscription video on demand services by the end of 2020, ahead of its original target of the end of 2022.

On the conference call with analysts, management warned that advertising revenue in the second quarter is expected to decline by 30%, as the coronavirus outbreak has hurt ad spending.