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DirecTV Gains on Subscriber Growth

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- DirecTV (DTV) saw earnings rise during the third quarter, driven by strong subscriber growth in both its U.S. and Latin American regions.

For the quarter ended September 30, the company saw earnings rise 30.1% to $479 million, or 55 cents per diluted share, compared with earnings of $366 million, or 37 cents per diluted share, in the same period a year ago. Earnings from continuing operations were in line with analyst estimates of 55 cents.

Revenue rose 10.2% to $6.03 billion from $5.47 billion during the quarter due to strong subscriber growth in the U.S. market as well as Latin America. The company ended the quarter with a total of 18.9 million U.S. subscribers, up 2.7% from 18.4 million subscribers at the end of the third quarter in 2009.

Revenue from its Latin America segment was up 22% to $930 million from $761 million due to strong subscriber growth and a 27% increase in third quarter net additions to 206,000 from 162,000. It added 525 million subscribers in Latin America in the third quarter, bringing the cumulative number of subscribers in the region to 5.4 million. DirecTV owns 74% of Sky Brazil, 41% of Sky Mexico and 100% of PanAmericana.

"Driven by our industry leading HD, DVR and interactive services, gross and net subscriber additions increased in both our U.S. and Latin American businesses for the first time in 2½ years and as a result, we widened our leading position as the world's largest provider of pay TV services with over 27 million subscribers," president and CEO Mike White said.

The average monthly revenue per subscriber (ARPU) in the U.S. was up 4.3% to $88.98 largely due to an increase in the programming package price, higher HD and DVR service fees and growth in advertising sales. ARPU in Latin American dropped 2.7% in the quarter due to currency devaluations, mainly in Venezuela.

DirecTV also saw a $64 million gain generated by DirecTV's sports networks, which was acquired as a part of a Liberty Media (LCAPA) transaction in November 2009.

For the first nine months of the year, earnings rose 62.2% to $1.58 billion, or $1.75 a share, compared with earnings of $974 million, or 97 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Earnings per share gains were driven by the higher net income and a lower average share count resulting from stock repurchases made over the last year and the 2009 Liberty transaction.

The company issued $3 billion in senior notes, repaid the remaining secured debt of $1.2 billion and repurchased $1.37 billion of its stock, bringing total repurchases to $3.6 billion year-to-date.

Revenue rose 12.2% to $17.48 billion from $15.58 billion due to strong subscriber and ARPU growth as well as $178 million of net revenue generated by its sports networks.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Theresa McCabe.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to @TheresaMcCabe.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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