TVG's Parent Company Reports Higher Profit

Gemstar TV Guide International Inc., publisher of TV Guide magazine and parent company of TVG Network, reported higher first-quarter profit May 3, as its interactive program guides for cable and satellite TV drove revenue.

For the three months ended March 31, the company reported net income of $34.4 million, or 8 cents per share, compared to $8.6 million, or 2 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

The latest earnings included $3.6 million, or a penny per share, from discontinued operations, the company said.

The company also benefited from the reversal of an arbitration award of $10.7 million regarding a patent rights agreement with Gemstar's former chairman and chief executive.

Revenue rose 9 percent to $156.7 million from $144 million in the 2006 quarter.

The company reported revenues of $11.44 million for TVG in the first quarter, up nearly $1 million from the same period last year, and almost $3 million more than in 2005. Gemstar stated in its quarterly report that TVG could be seen in 20.4 million households, a figure that has reportedly grown to nearly 26 million by virtue of a recent deal with DirectTV.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected profits of 5 cents per share on revenue of $153.7 million.

"We ended 2006 strong and started 2007 in similar fashion," CEO Rich Battista said during a conference call with Wall Street analysts.

Gemstar said revenue for its guidance technology and solutions unit climbed to $75.5 million during the quarter, accounting for 48 percent of total revenue.

Sales for products related to its cable programming guide rose to $5.3 million, due primarily to higher shipments in consumer electronic devices and an increase in digital cable subscribers.

Revenue from its media networks division, which includes the TV Guide Channel and the horse-racing channel TVG Network, fell 2 percent to $47.6 million, compared to the year-ago quarter. The unit's sales represented 30 percent of total revenue.

TV Guide Magazine revenue fell 5 percent to $33.7 million. The company said the decline was due to fewer subscribers but noted the magazine saw higher newsstand revenue during the quarter.

While advertising revenue at the magazine was up 18 percent over the year-ago quarter, the company doesn't expect to see the same level of growth again during the remainder of this year, Bedi A. Singh, the company's chief financial officer, said during the call.

"The ad market generally for print is extremely challenged right now," Singh said.

The company plans to coordinate breaking news coverage on its TV Guide Web site, the magazine and its TV Guide channel, Battista said.

Battista also said the company is making good progress in its strategy to expand its programming guide services across media platforms.

To that end, Gemstar acquired Burbank-based interactive navigation software company Aptiv Digital for about $16 million in cash during the quarter. The company has also launched a search tool for Internet video and plans to roll out a new suite of personalized programming guidance services later this year.

Singh said he expects the company will incur significantly higher expenses later this year related to the expansion of its programming guide services.

Gemstar shares fell 2 cents to $4.53 on Thursday.

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