UPDATE 3-Discovery profit up 42 pct with help from abroad

* Q1 shr $0.39 vs Wall St. view $0.34

* Revenue up greater-than-expected 8 percent

* Sees full year revenue of $3.68-$3.78 bln

* Shares hit all-time high
(Adds executive, analyst comment, share price, byline)

By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK, April 30 (BestGrowthStock) – Discovery Communications
(DISCA.O: ) reported a 42 percent rise in quarterly profit, as
the company’s push to bring its hit cable TV programs abroad
resulted in a sharp jump in international advertising sales.

Shares of Discovery, the cable TV broadcaster behind hit
shows like “Cake Boss,” “Little People, Big World,” and “Man
vs. Wild,” rose 3.5 percent and hit an all-time high after the
better-than-expected results on Friday. The stock has nearly
doubled in the past year, making Discovery among the most
popular media companies with investors.

One reason for its standing is the consistently strong
ratings of its U.S. cable networks, which include the Discovery
Channel and Animal Planet and specialize in adventure, travel
and cooking shows. Its ratings rose 11 percent in the first

But the first quarter earnings also showed that Discovery’s
efforts in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America
are paying dividends. Excluding any help from exchange rates,
the company boosted international revenue by 10 percent and ad
sales by a whopping 35 percent. This at a time when most media
companies are hoping to squeak by with even small increases.

Executives on a conference call said that while 35 percent
increases should not be expected every quarter, they did
foresee double-digit advertising gains from the international
business in the quarters ahead.

That suggests international ad sales will continue to
outpace those in the United States, although executives sounded
upbeat about the recovery in advertising spending here. Among
other factors, they pointed to a rebound in spending by
automakers on commercial time.

“There was no question there is a much higher degree of
optimism in the marketplace from clients across virtually every
category,” said Chief Executive David Zaslav. He added that he
expected “significant increases” in sales of commercial time
for the 2010-2011 TV season when negotiations begin in the
coming weeks.

During the first quarter, Discovery’s advertising sales
rose 9 percent in the United States. Below the increase in its
international business, its U.S. performance is still likely to
outshine nearly every other major media company.

For instance, Viacom Inc (VIAb.N: ), owner of the MTV and
Nickelodeon cable channels, reported a 1 percent increase in
U.S. ad sales in its report on Thursday. It was the first
increase in two years.

What is more, Discovery is preparing for the launch of
another much-talked-about new cable network, the Oprah Winfrey
Network. It has a 50 percent stake in the network, a
partnership with the famous talk-show queen, and has already
signed a major, multiyear ad deal with Procter & Gamble Co
(PG.N: ). The network will debut in January 2011.

But some analyst worry that after a year-long rally, the
stock may not have much more room to run.

“The strong momentum in advertising continues to exceed
expectations with Discovery’s first quarter results,” wrote
Macquarie analyst Ben Stretch. But “while the first quarter was
certainly a quality result, we have a hard time supporting the
stock given its current valuation level,” he added in a note.

Overall, Discovery’s first quarter revenue rose 8 percent
to $879 million, surpassing the average estimate of $863.3 that
analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected.

Profit also topped expectations, rising to $169 million, or
39 cents a share, up from $119 million, or 28 cents a share, in
the period a year earlier.

For 2010, Discovery expects full-year revenue of $3.68
billion to $3.78 billion. Analysts had forecast revenue for the
period of $3.74 billion.

Shares of the company were up $1.34 at $38.86 on the New
York Stock Exchange.

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(Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Derek Caney)

UPDATE 3-Discovery profit up 42 pct with help from abroad