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DirecTV posts better-than-expected sales, profit

By Stuart Pfeifer

3:12 PM EST, November 5, 2013

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DirecTV, already the largest U.S. satellite television provider, is getting bigger.

The El Segundo company said Tuesday that it gained new customers, reduced churn and increased fees, boosting third-quarter profit and sales past analysts' expectations.

Net income climbed 24% to $699 million, or $1.28 a share, from $565 million, or 90 cents, a year earlier, the company said in a news release. Analysts had predicted earnings of about $1 a share on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

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DirecTV, which employs 15,000 people, said it increased revenue per user and reduced the percentage of customers who leave the service. Customers are also paying more for premium programming, warranties and pay-per-view shows.

The company said it added 139,000 U.S. subscribers in the quarter -- the most since 2011 -- and eclipsed 37 million total subscribers. Sales rose 6% to $7.88 billion.

"It shows they have a very solid position at the high end of the market, with a better product and a better subscriber base," Todd Mitchell, an analyst at Brean Capital, told Bloomberg. "That insulates them a little bit from the churn you get in promotional subscriptions."

DirecTV shares were down fractionally in mid-day trading Tuesday. The company's stock is up 28% this year.

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