Time Warner ( TWX) matched fourth-quarter estimates and guided in line for 2007.The New York media giant also said it has bought back $16.4 billion worth of stock under a Carl Icahn-inspired $20 billion buyback plan. Time Warner said it expects to complete that repurchase program in the first half of 2007. For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Time Warner made $1.75 billion, or 44 cents a share, up from the year-ago $1.3 billion, or 28 cents a share. Excluding certain items, earnings were 23 cents a share, down from 24 cents a year ago but in line with the Thomson Financial analyst consensus estimate. Revenue rose to $12.47 billion from $11.52 billion a year earlier, just shy of the $12.48 billion Wall Street estimate. At AOL, revenue dropped 8% from a year ago to $1.9 billion. At year-end, the AOL service had 13.2 million U.S. access subscribers, a decline of 2.0 million from the prior quarter and 6.3 million from the year-ago quarter, reflecting subscriber losses due in part to AOL's strategy to prioritize its advertising business. At Time Warner Cable, revenue surged 58% from a year ago to $3.7 billion, driven by the acquisition of Adelphia assets. Time Warner Cable added 675,000 revenue generating units, or RGUs, in the fourth quarter of 2006. At the end of 2006, 6.2 million customers subscribed to two or more primary products (video, high-speed data and voice), representing 42% of customer relationships. Triple Play subscriptions were 1.5 million, or 10% of customer relationships.
Time Warner Cable's Legacy Systems gained 29,000 basic video subscribers in the fourth quarter, marking the sixth consecutive quarter of net additions. This gain was more than offset by a reduction of 52,000 in the Acquired Systems, resulting in a net reduction of 23,000 basic video subscribers for the fourth quarter. The majority of the net reduction occurred in the newly acquired Dallas and Los Angeles systems. In the fourth quarter, net additions of digital video subscribers were 246,000. The Legacy Systems contributed 187,000 net subscriber additions. In addition, the Acquired Systems showed considerable improvement in the fourth quarter, with 59,000 net subscriber additions, compared to a net subscriber decline during the third quarter. Digital video subscribers totaled 7.3 million at the end of the quarter, or 54% penetration of basic video customers. Residential high-speed data subscriber net additions reached 246,000 in the fourth quarter. Net additions in the Legacy Systems were 206,000 - marking the sixth consecutive quarter that net additions were at least 200,000. Time Warner Cable also added 40,000 residential high-speed data subscribers in the Acquired Systems. Total residential high-speed data subscribers at the end of the quarter were 6.6 million, representing nearly 26% of service-ready homes passed. Digital Phone subscriber net additions were 211,000 in the fourth quarter. The Legacy Systems had 208,000 net additions during the fourth quarter, an 11% increase compared to third-quarter net additions. Time Warner Cable also began rolling out its Digital Phone product in the Acquired Systems in the fourth quarter, generating 3,000 net subscriber additions. At the end of the quarter, Digital Phone subscribers totaled 1.9 million, representing 11% of service-ready homes passed.
In movies, revenue dropped 11% to $3.1 billion. In networks, revenue rose 10% to $2.7 billion. In publishing, revenue slipped 1% to $1.5 billion. The company said it expects to make $1 a share for the year, excluding certain items, in line with the $1.01 Thomson target.