A billboard for CNN is shown in New York. Time Warner, which owns CNN, says it reversed its losses in the fourth quarter, as its cable channels and movie studio boosted revenue.
A billboard for CNN is shown in New York. Time Warner, which owns CNN, says it reversed its losses in the fourth quarter, as its cable channels and movie studio boosted revenue.

"Sherlock Holmes" and other hit movies helped US media and entertainment giant Time Warner post a quarterly net profit overnight despite a slide in advertising revenue at its publishing division.

Time Warner reported a fourth-quarter net profit of $US627 million ($A707 million) compared with a loss of $US16 billion ($A18.05 billion) a year ago, when it carried out a massive writedown of the value of some of its properties.

Earnings per share of 53 cents were slightly better than the 52 cents expected by Wall Street analysts.

The New York-based Time Warner, which spun off Time Warner Cable in March and internet unit AOL in December, said revenue increased two per cent in the quarter which ended on December 31 to 7.3 billion dollars.

For the full year, Time Warner reported a net profit of 2.5 billion dollars compared with a net loss of 13.03 billion dollars in 2008. Revenue declined three per cent for the year to 25.8 billion dollars.

Revenue for Time Warner's film division, which includes Hollywood studio Warner Bros., rose seven per cent in the fourth quarter to 3.3 billion dollars on the strong box-office showings of "Sherlock Holmes" and "The Blind Side".

DVD sales of hit comedy "The Hangover" also helped boost the bottom line.

Time Warner said revenue for its television networks, which include Turner Broadcast and HBO, grew four per cent in the quarter to 3.1 billion dollars.

Revenue at Time Warner's publishing division, which includes flagship Time magazine, Sports Illustrated and other titles, declined 13 per cent to 1.1 billion dollars. Advertising revenue was down 12 per cent.

Time Warner said it was raising its dividend by 13.3 per cent and increasing by two billion dollars to three billion dollars the amount of money that it is setting aside to buy back shares.

Chairman and chief executive Jeff Bewkes said that "despite the difficult economy," Time Warner had "achieved all of our goals in 2009".

"Our studio and networks achieved record profits, while investing even more in programming and production," he said in a statement.

"We spun off both Time Warner Cable and AOL, enabling us to focus all our resources on creating and distributing the highest quality and most popular content."

He said Time Warner's goals for 2010 would be to "leverage our brands and scale to make the most compelling content, improve our efficiency, expand internationally and accelerate the digital transition in our businesses.

That would include building a "digital storefront to provide magazine and other content portable digital devices," Mr Bewkes said.

Time Warner's better-than-expected results came a day after another leading content company, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., also reported solid quarterly earnings.

Time Warner shares were down 1.54 per cent at 28.07 dollars in early trading on Wall Street.

The West Australian

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