Discovery 1Q profit just short of estimates

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) -- Discovery Communications Inc., the operator of pay TV networks such as Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet, said Tuesday that its first-quarter net income grew nearly 5 percent thanks to strong growth overseas.

Net income grew to $231 million, or 63 cents per share, from $221 million, or 57 cents per share, a year ago.

That was slightly short of the 64 cents per share of earnings expected by analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue rose nearly 7 percent to $1.16 billion from $1.09 billion. That matched the $1.16 billion expected.

"The significant operating momentum Discovery generated throughout 2012 continued unabated in the first quarter," Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in a statement.

International revenue grew 17 percent to $444 million while U.S. revenue rose 1 percent to $686 million.

Domestically, advertising revenue grew 8 percent but fees from distributors fell 9 percent, in part due to a one-time bump in licensing revenue a year ago that amounted to $45 million. Excluding that bump, distribution revenue would have increased 6 percent and total U.S. revenue would have risen 8 percent.

The company projected full-year results that topped analysts' expectations.

Discovery said it expects revenue in the year through December of between $5.58 billion and $5.70 billion. That was higher than the $5.55 billion analysts were looking for.

It also said it expects to post annual net income of $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion. The midpoint is above the $1.22 billion analysts were forecasting.

Shares were down $1.28, or 1.6 percent, at $77.74 in midday trading Tuesday.