Time Warner (TWX - Get Report) is one of the premier media content providers in the world, operating in three segments: filmed entertainment, TV/cable networks and publishing. Among its highly recognizable brands are HBO, Cinemax, CNN, TBS, TNT, Sports Illustrated, People, Fortune, Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema. Long known for one of the worst mergers and acquisitions of all time with the original America Online ( AOL (AOL) was spun off in 2009). The company has had to trim itself down by cutting debt, focusing on cash flow and spinning off companies.
Time Warner Cable (TWC) was spun off in its entirety in 2009; prior to that it was a tracking stock of which Time Warner held an 84% stake. As part of that spinoff, Time Warner offloaded a considerable amount of long-term debt (an estimated $20 to $22 billion) onto Time Warner Cable's balance sheet. Now the more svelt Time Warner can operate as a cash cow, paying off more debt, repurchasing stock and paying a dividend. I expect a dividend increase in early 2012.
The rapid emergence of digital delivery of content will no doubt favor the content providers in the future, which will work to Time Warner's advantage.Time Warner reported earnings of 79 cents, which was better than consensus estimates of 76 cents. This resulted in upward full-year EPS consensus revision of 1 cent for the company from 11 analysts. For the fourth quarter, analysts expect Time Warner to earn 86 cents, which is unchanged from a month ago but 2 cents greater it was two months ago. Time Warner, one of the highest-yielding media stocks, shows up on a recent list of 5 Media Companies With the Most to Win and Lose.