Cable360AM — News briefing for Wednesday, Feb. 6 »

It’s the first full week of February and the mercury is expected to reach the mid 70’s in Washington, DC, today. Good morning.

In Jeff Bewkes’ first financial report as Time Warner chief, the company posted a 41% drop in profits. Net income was $1.03 billion (28 cents/share), versus $1.75 billion (44 cents/share) one year ago. Revenue rose 2 percent to $12.64 billion, near analysts’ estimates. [Associated Press] As some predicted, Bewkes, in his initial earnings call, said this morning that the company’s 84% ownership stake in Time Warner Cable  was "less than optimal," leading some to believe a sale of Time Warner Cable  is possible. Yet Bewkes scotched talk that cable is not a good business. "Quite the opposite," he said. Bewkes also noted that Time Warner wants to divide AOL’s audience and access businesses, operating each as distinct entities. Dividing the businesses could be the prelude to a sale of the access business, CNNMoney.com said. Shares of Time Warner and Time Warner Cable gained on the news. [Reuters] [CNNMoney.com]

After the closing bell Disney reported that it beat Wall Street’s expectations thanks in  part to its cable properties, including Disney Channel and ESPN, and the sale of E! Entertainment. First-quarter profit fell, however. Disney boss Bob Iger noted the contribution of 15-year-old Hannah Montana (aka Miley Cyrus), whose film version of her sold-out concert tour grabbed $31 million last weekend at the box office, a Super Bowl weekend record. Disney’s cable networks clearly buoyed Disney’s results, The  LA Times reported. Operating income rose to $586 million, up $125 million from the year-earlier period. The Times noted that ESPN’s “double-digit growth in ad revenue was offset by increased sports rights and programming costs,” and said “Disney Channel has emerged as the new powerhouse.”

Net profit was $1.3 billion, or 63 cents per share. Last year’s Q1 totals were also $1.3 billion, but 79 cents per share. Sales from cable and broadcasting rose 10%, to $4.2 billion, from $3.8 billion during last year’s Q1. Consumer sales linked to the High School Musical franchise also helped. Sales of HSM-related goods helped consumer products sales rise 29%. Overall Disney revenue reached $10.45 billion, up from $9.6 billion. [Forbes] [BBC News] [LA Times]

The #2 cable op, Time Warner Cable, posted strong Q2 numbers, with a 23% jump in profit. The rise was linked to increased numbers of customers for broadband and digital phone, Reuters said. The MSO  added 168,000 digital video subs, 285,000 digital phone customers and 214,00 high-speed Internet subs, besting most expectations. Net profit rose to $327 million (33 cents/share), up from $266 million (27 cents/share). Revenue jumped 12% to $4.1 billion.
[Reuters]

Time Warner may have Cablevision is in its sights. Allegiant Large Cap Value Fund manager Michael Chren noted on CNBC Tuesday that a Time Warner Cable bid for Cablevision could be as much as $40/share, besting the Dolans’ offer to shareholders. [Asbury Park Press

The venerable Vanity Fair has decided to forgo its annual Oscars party. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal says the Writers Guild sent a letter to members last night explaining points that could lead to a possible settlement. A meeting is set for Saturday in L.A. [Vanity Fair] [WSJ]

Another reason to love cable: SportsNY at 1pm ET today carries live the news conference introducing Mets’ savior Johan Santana to the NY media.

In today’s CableFAX Daily: It’s what C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb railed about during last year’s ACA Washington Summit—the money being spent on politics in this country is growing exponentially. And Comcast and Time Warner Cable are doing their share. Yesterday’s 360AM

Yesterday’s 360 Update 

Got a tip? Email sgoldstein@accessintel.com and sarenstein@accessintel.com

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