Analyst Expresses Surprise at Consumer Spike

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NEW YORK ( -- DirecTV U.S. surprised Wall Street today by announcing a 151% increase in subscribers during the second quarter, compared to the same period 2003.

According to company results issued this afternoon, total subscribers are now in excess of 13 million, thanks to an additional 455,000 subscribers who signed up in the second quarter.

DirectTV is the country's largest broadcast satellite provider, competing for the same viewers cable TV stations are chasing. It is a unit of DirecTV Group, which was formerly known as Hughes Electronics. The company is 34% owned by Fox Entertainment Group, itself 82% owned by New Corp.

The satellite operator, based in El Segundo, Calif., reported a 21% increase in revenue to $2.64 billion for the quarter, though net losses were $13 million compared to $22 million for the period, according to the company.

Commenting in a note issued this afternoon, Merrill Lynch Co. media analyst Jessica Reif Cohen said the figure far outweighed her own estimate of 300,000 and noted that the increase is all the more surprising given that the second quarter is a traditionally weak period for satellite providers because of summer declines in TV viewing.

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