Total revenue at Liberty climbed about 13% in the fourth quarter, with operating income up about 77% and earnings from continuing operations reversing to a loss from a year-ago profit. Full-year companywide cash flow from operations grew about 34%, and free cash flow expanded at roughly the same rate.
Given that this company is about to create a tracking stock, though, I think it's worth looking a little closer at some of the particulars. QVC, which will be the core operating component of the Liberty Interactive stock, saw revenue rise 14% and operating income 20%, and unit shipments of merchandise increased 11% in the domestic operations. On the other side, the Starz Entertainment Group (SEG) experienced flat revenue, higher costs, and an operating loss.
Stakes in other companies make up a major chunk of Liberty's value, and the stated fair value of its holdings increased about 1% from the third quarter. What's more, Liberty seems to be interested in boosting its stakes in Expedia
Though matters have not been completed, we can say that the company does seem intent on bundling QVC and its stake in IAC and Expedia into Liberty Interactive, with SEG joining with other "non-strategic" holdings such as News Corp.
Although management hopes that this split will help bring out the true value of the company's assets, I'm not entirely confident. It's possible that Liberty Interactive might get fairer treatment, but Liberty Capital could trade at an even larger relative discount -- though management could certainly play off that possibility and use Liberty Interactive to buy undervalued shares of Liberty Capital.
I'm always interested in opportunities where I can buy a dollar's worth of assets for something less than a dollar. That said, my enthusiasm is tempered by a little realism -- the story at Liberty Media isn't exactly a secret, and if Wall Street isn't giving the company its due now, it could be a long wait for that to happen.
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).