May 8, 2018 / 10:16 AM / 4 months ago

Dish Network quarterly revenue misses estimates on pay-TV losses

(Reuters) - Dish Network Corp (DISH.O) reported first-quarter revenue that fell short of Wall Street estimates on Tuesday as more satellite TV subscribers canceled their packages, revenue per customer declined and viewers increasingly chose cheaper online options.

Dish’s pay-TV service shed 94,000 subscribers in the quarter, while subscribers for its streaming service, Sling TV, rose by 91,000.

Shares of Dish slumped 11 percent to $30.22 in afternoon trading, hitting a six-year low.

Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said during a post-earnings conference call that the company was committed to repaying its debt - which stands at about $16 billion, according to New Street Research analysts - “100 cents on the dollar.”

Craig Moffett, an analyst with MoffettNathanson, said the rate at which Dish’s business is deteriorating is “nothing short of breathtaking.”

“When a company has to explain why they probably won’t default on their debt, it’s usually not a good day for equity holders,” he said.

Dish has been trying to lure young viewers to its $20-per-month Sling TV as it battles cord-cutting in its satellite-TV services, with viewers moving to competitors like Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) Prime Video.

Average revenue per user in Dish’s pay-TV business fell to $84.50 from $86.55.

A Dish Network satellite dish is shown on a residential home in Encinitas, California, U.S., November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Moffett said in a research note that Dish’s average revenue per user could experience more pressure in the future, as so-called skinny bundles, including the company’s own Sling TV, cap its ability to raise prices.

Average revenue per Sling TV user was $25 in the first quarter, Moffett estimated, much lower than Dish’s traditional TV customers.

Dish said during the call that revenue and margins on Sling TV customers are increasing and it expects the trend to continue.

Dish is also working to build the first phase of an Internet of Things network, Ergen said, the initial step in building a nationwide 5G network.

The company has been acquiring a stockpile of spectrum, or airwaves that carry data.

Every industry will need 5G to power new technologies like artificial intelligence and autonomous cars, and Dish is in a good spot to offer it, Ergen said, though he acknowledged there is investor skepticism toward the company’s efforts to build a network.

Net income attributable to the company fell to $368 million, or 70 cents per share, for the quarter, from $376 million, or 76 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts had expected 69 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell to $3.46 billion from $3.68 billion last year.

Analysts were expecting $3.5 billion.

Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru and Sheila Dang in New York; editing by Leslie Adler and Steve Orlofsky

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