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Will HSN Be Ensnared in Liberty's Web?

"We are disappointed with the soft sales results in the U.S., driven in part by a sluggish retail environment and difficult year-over-year comparisons," said Mike George, QVC's CEO. "However, we chose not to adopt a heavily promotional focus in the quarter and were able to maintain stable margin rates despite the slower sales growth."

QVC's third-quarter revenue was $1.69 billion, including a 2% rise in the U.S. to $1.17 billion and a 2% rise overseas to $512 million. Apparel sales increased while sales of gold jewelry and home products slipped. The unit's operating cash flow was down 1% to $364 million.

The company said sales were weak in its German and Japanese operations because of heightened competition and regulatory issues.

"The company continues to see pressure from a sluggish economy," says Jeffrey Shelton, analyst with Natixis Bleichroeder. "The results were less than my expectations and most people's expectations."

On the other side of Liberty Media's business, which is tracked by Liberty Media Capital (LCAPA) shares, results were better thanks to the Starz Entertainment division.

Revenue at Starz, a network of paid movie cable channels, rose 11% to $253 million. Its operating cash flow nearly doubled to $88 million, and Liberty said Starz had experienced continued subscriber growth and reduced programming costs.

Liberty Media doesn't report net income figures for QVC or Starz Entertainment.

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