How 'Lego Movie,' 'Thrones' Carried Time Warner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Lego Movie and HBO's Game of Thrones offset sluggish ratings at TNT and programming expenses to propel Time Warner's ( TWX) first-quarter revenue and profits to exceed analyst forecasts for a 21st straight quarter.

You'd think that these number-crunching wizards of Wall Street would have caught onto the wily ways of the world's second-largest entertainment company and its dumb-as-a-fox CEO, Jeff Bewkes.

But there it is: Time Warner posted earnings, excluding some items, of 91 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had been expecting 88 cents a share. Revenue climbed to $7.5 billion, also beating a consensus analyst estimate of $6.7 billion.

Shares were rising 1.1% to $65.45 in mid-morning trading. Shares are down 6.1% this year after rising 49% in 2013.


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The real story for the quarter was at Warner Bros. where The LEGO Movie, the top grossing domestic film for the there months ended March 30, together with 300: Rise of an Empire powered a 14% jump in sales to $3.07 billion. Bewkes spoke glowingly in an investor conference call about LEGO as the company's newest franchise. Indeed, a LEGO sequel is slated for release in 2017.

Bewkes' talent as an executive, and guardian of the Holy Grail of shareholder equity, has been his success at consistently getting top-dollar for his company's cable programming from pay-TV operators the world over. And true to form, the cable-TV Turner unit, which includes TBS and TNT, reported a 5% gain in revenue to $2.59 billion, spurred in part by a particularly exciting NCAA men's basketball tournament.

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