The digital video recorder (DVR) pioneer came through with a quarterly report that would please bean-counters. Despite lackluster top-line growth and a slowdown in rounding up new subscribers, TiVo ultimately posted positive EBITDA on an adjusted basis, on the way to a narrower quarterly loss. It also pleased investors by posting positive EBITDA results three months ago.
Service and technology revenue inched just 2% higher, to $58.1 million, during the company's fiscal fourth quarter. The company's net loss clocked in at $0.06 a share, substantially better than the $0.20-a-share deficit it posted a year earlier.
Wall Street was looking for TiVo to deliver a loss of $0.11 a share on $59.3 million in revenue. Don't be so quick to declare the top-line showing a miss. The company has recently decided to record the money paid by lifetime subscribers over 54 months instead of 48 months, catapulting $2.5 million in revenue that would have normally been recorded during the period into future quarters. It's unclear whether analysts had factored that into their models.
So what's the secret to TiVo's improved margins? Well, the company is holding off on the chunky hardware rebates it once offered, even if it's still selling its boxes at a slight loss. It's also holding the line on its marketing budget. The end result: TiVo's total subscriber acquisition costs in the fourth quarter were its lowest in more than two years.
Instead of selling last year's "free" standard-definition boxes tethered to subscription commitments, the company moved fewer retail-priced high-def and standard boxes this time around. TiVo landed 109,000 gross subscribers during the quarter, versus 163,000 a year earlier.
In the end, the company closed out the period with a record number of TiVo-owned subscribers, at 1.745 million.
TiVo has come a long way. Whether it's cashing in on its patent-rich lineage to milk deals with cable companies like Comcast
With the company expecting to post improved bottom-line performance this new fiscal year, it looks like TiVo is here to stay, play, and replay.
For more Foolishness: