Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) (NASDAQ:DISCK) posted third quarter earnings results today. Broadly speaking, revenue came in just below expectations, while profit matched Wall Street's target. But Discovery also dialed back its full-year outlook, which may explain why the stock fell following the earnings announcement. Let's take a closer look at the results.
Healthy sales and profit gains
Discovery's global network is growing at a healthy clip. Revenue from its international business leapt higher by 32% to account for more than half of the media giant's overall sales in Q3. Yes, much of that jump was due to Discovery's acquisition of Eurosport. But revenue grew by a solid 10% overseas even if you exclude the bump from that recent purchase.
Meanwhile, the U.S. market saw a slight drop, with overall sales falling 1%. In a press release accompanying the results, management pointed to a comparison with an unusually strong prior year period as the main reason for the slip. However, it's clear that Discovery was also pinched by the same slowdown in advertising growth that has been impacting rivals. Ad revenue grew by 1% in the quarter as compared to the 5% gain in Q2.
Overall, sales rose 14% to $1.57 billion while Wall Street was looking for a slightly higher 16% improvement.
Things look good on the profit side of the business. The U.S. division continues to boast strong profitability, with operating margin ticking higher by one percentage point to 59% of sales.
Companywide, net income improved by 10%. But because Discovery spent $300 million on stock buybacks, EPS grew even faster. Discovery booked $0.41 per share in profit, 14% higher year over year and even with analysts' expectations.
"Discovery's strong global organic growth and reach coupled with increasing contributions from our recent strategic acquisitions led to another quarter of solid results," CEO David Zaslav said in a press release.
But a downgraded outlook
However, perhaps due of the slowdown in advertising spending, management scaled back their sales and profit guidance for the full year. The company now sees revenue of between $6.3 billion and $6.35 billion. Three months ago that forecast stood at between $6.45 billion and $6.53 billion. The entire updated range is also just below what Wall Street was expecting the media giant to post this year.
Moreover, Discovery slightly lowered its target for full-year profit to $1.28 billion at the midpoint of the range, from the $1.37 billion forecast in Q2. Investors shouldn't try to read too much into that change, though, as earnings will be a bit more volatile as overseas profit grows to a larger percentage of overall profit. Exchange rates are likely behind much of the change in earnings forecast for the full year.
Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Discovery Communications. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.