Zombies and time lords helped AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX)turn in another quarter of strong growth as domestic advertising revenue soared, overshadowing weakness in the international sector.
Global viewing of Fear The Walking Dead couldn't make up for the lack of a theatrical hit the size of IFC's Boyhood, which went on to win an Oscar for actress Patricia Arquette. Here's a closer look at the company's third quarter performance:
|Metric||Q3 2015||Q3 2014||YoY Growth|
|Revenue||$632.17 million||$519.55 million||21.7%|
|Operating income||$159.27 million||$110.23 million||44.5%|
|Adjusted cash from operations||$190.58 million||$141.87 million||34.3%|
Commenting on the results, CEO Josh Sapan said in a press release:
AMC Networks had outstanding performance in the quarter, with significant increases in net revenues and operating cash flow driven by the continued popularity of our networks' original programming, notably BBC AMERICA's Doctor Who and AMC's newest original series, Fear the Walking Dead, which premiered to record numbers, becoming the biggest series debut in cable television history. We continue to invest in our international business, growing our portfolio of strong local brands and launching the AMC brand into new markets. We are confident our approach to creating great content and building networks with distinct brands that resonate with viewers will continue to drive our performance over the near- and long-term and deliver value for our shareholders.
What went right: Advertising revenue at the company's core national networks segment soared 52.3% year-over-year thanks to the inclusion of BBC America ads in results. Doctor Who and other signature British properties helped bring in $210 million, or roughly 40% of national networks revenue. The results also included revenue from the summer spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, which debuted to 10.1 million live plus same-day viewers of the Aug. 23 pilot premiere.
What went wrong: International revenue fell 7% to $114.1 million, but that's not the real story. National networks distribution revenue from affiliate fees and syndication are more interesting in that they climbed just 20.1% despite a much-touted deal with Hulu for exclusive streaming rights to Fear the Walking Dead, among other programming. It's possible that AMC won't begin recognizing revenue for that deal until licensed shows begin airing. Fear won't make its way to Hulu before 2016.
What's next: Investors want to keep a close watch on international revenue, especially now that new original series are entering the lineup. Martial-arts drama Into the Badlands premieres on Nov. 15.
Financially, AMC didn't offer much of a forecast during the earnings call held Thursday morning. Instead, CFO Sean Sullivan told analysts that foreign currency "headwinds" could keep a lid on growth in the international business unit. Other comments were high-level, aimed at reassuring investors that AMC management is "optimistic" about performance heading into the fourth quarter.
Tim Beyers feels like the walking dead when there's no coffee to be had. He's also a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission but didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home and portfolio holdings or connect with him on Google+, Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool.
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