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Dish Increases 4Q Profit but Loses Subscribers

ENGLEWOOD,COLO.: Dish Network, the No. 2 satellite TV provider in the country, posted a $217 million profit for 4Q08, up 24 percent from the year-earlier period. Simultaneously, Dish (NASDAQ: DISH) lost 102,000 subscribers in the period, leaving the operator with a total of 13.7 million. DirecTV, the nation’s other major satellite TV concern, ended last year with 17.6 million subscribers.

EchoStar, (NASDAQ: SATS), former parent company of Dish, also reported 4Q results, ending the period with a $690 million net loss, compared to a net loss of $45 million the previous year. Revenues rose 37 percent to $496 million.

EchoStar is now essentially Dish’s bird farm, in addition to providing and managing the set-top boxes.

EchoStar’s results included a $247 million write-down on Sling Media, which EchoStar acquired in September, 2007 for $380 million in cash and stock. Another $216 million was written off for net losses on investments, $187 million related to certain satellites, and $4 million of other asset impairments.

SATS shares dipped from $16.38 at close on Friday to less than $15 today, as much on the wider market slide as its own results. DISH dipped from a Friday close of $11.25 to around $10 in mid-afternoon trading.