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DirecTV beats estimates, authorizes $3.5 billion share buyback

(Reuters) - DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite TV company, reported fourth-quarter results above analysts' estimates as it made more from each subscriber in the United States, and the company authorized a $3.5 billion share repurchase program.
/ Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite TV company, reported fourth-quarter results above analysts' estimates as it made more from each subscriber in the United States, and the company authorized a $3.5 billion share repurchase program.

DirecTV's shares rose 1.8 percent in premarket trading.

The company said its average monthly revenue per user (ARPU) in the United States rose 6.3 percent to $111.74 in the fourth quarter ended December 31.

However, U.S. net subscriber additions dropped almost 10 percent to 93,000 as the company focused on what it called "higher quality subscribers" in a mature market.

The number of new customers in Latin America, the company's largest growth area, fell about 65 percent to 231,000.

Subscriber numbers in the region, where the company is tapping into a growing middle class, were hurt by a fall in imports of set-top boxes in Venezuela and weak economic conditions in Argentina, Colombia and Chile.

DirecTV said it had 20.25 million subscribers in the United States at the end of 2013, up about 0.8 percent from 2012. In Latin America, its customer base grew 12 percent to 11.57 million.

Net income attributable to the company fell to $810 million, or $1.53 per share, in the fourth quarter, from $942 million, or $1.55 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 7 percent to $8.59 billion.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.28 per share on revenue of $8.47 billion, according to Thomson Reuters

I/B/E/S.

DirecTV's shares were up 1.8 percent at $74.25 before the bell.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Maju Samuel)