Liberty Media Third-Quarter Earnings Drop, Revenue From Media, Entertainment Stakes Rise

John Malone's Liberty Media on Tuesday reported lower third-quarter earnings, but improved other key financials amid the inclusion of Sirius XM Radio financials and the exclusion of premium TV firm Starz, which it spun off earlier in the year.

Operating profit of $248 million was up from $10 million in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization, another profitability metric, rose from $29 million to $379 million. Revenue rose $656 million to $1.11 billion. 

However, earnings fell to $76 million from $221 million, and earnings from continuing operations dropped from $162 million to $116 million.

Liberty once again said that the fair value of its ownership stakes in media and entertainment companies rose in the latest quarter – from $5.37 billion at the end of June to $5.83 billion at the end of September. The gain was driven by a continued rise in the market value of Charter and Live Nation, but a slight decline for Barnes & Noble.

Meanwhile, cable operator Charter Communications, in which Liberty owns a stake of about 27 percent, on Tuesday reported a third-quarter loss of $70 million. In the year-ago period, it had lost $103 million. Revenue of $2.1 billion grew 5.4 percent on a pro forma basis, or 12.7 percent when not adjusting to the acquisition of Bresnan, which closed on July 1.

Charter lost 27,000 video subscribers in the latest period, down from the year-ago loss of 71,000. Its broadband user growth accelerated.

"We continue to execute well on our strategic objectives, and that's evidenced in the solid revenue and adjusted [operating cash flow] growth we delivered in the third quarter," said Tom Rutledge, president and CEO of Charter. "We've greatly improved the competitiveness of our product offering and the value we deliver to customers, which is driving growth in both our residential and commercial businesses. We are backing up our product with substantially improved service levels, an area where we will continue to invest to drive even better quality."

He added: "As we head into 2014, we believe Charter is in an increasingly strong position to grow both its market share and cash flow as we accelerate our all-digital program, begin to roll out new products and take full advantage of our superior network."