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Hughes Home Broadcast Segment Reports 25% 4th Qtr. Sales Rise

1/22/2001 02:00:00 AM Eastern

EL SEGUNDO, CALIF . -Led by a 25.3 percent overall revenue rise in its Direct-To-Home Broadcast segment during the fourth quarter, digital TV entertainment provider Hughes Electronics reported a 21.3 percent increase in total company fourth-quarter sales.

The Direct-To-Home Broadcast segment recorded $1.5 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter, compared with $1.2 billion in the same period last year. Overall company revenue reached $2.1 billion, up from $1.7 billion in the year-ago quarter.

"Our growth continues to be driven by unprecedented demand for DirecTV service in both the United States and Latin America," said chairman/CEO Michael T. Smith. "In fact, on a gross basis, more than 1 million new customers bought DirecTV systems in the United States during the quarter."

As a result, DirecTV has added a record 527,000 net U.S. subscribers in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. This compares with 515,000 net subscribers added in fourth-quarter 1999.

Over the year 2000, the company added 3.4 million gross subscribers, its strongest annual growth in history. Net subscriber additions for the full year reached 1,834,000, a 14 percent improvement over the 1,606,000 net subscribers added in 1999.

As of Dec. 31, 2000, DirecTV had a total of 9.5 million subscribers in the United States, just short of the 10 million number it had predicted.

DirecTV reported that quarterly revenue grew 23 percent in $1.4 billion in the United States, compared with $1.1 billion in the same three months last year. The increase was due primarily to the continued strong subscriber growth.

Total EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) for Hughes reached $153.8 million in the quarter, compared with an EBITDA loss of $173 million in the same three months in 1999. The total company operating loss for the quarter dropped to $121.2 million, down from a loss of $371.8 million in the year-ago period.

EBITDA for the Direct-To-Home Broadcast segment was $16.4 million, compared with an EBITDA loss of $23.6 million in the year-ago three months. The operating loss for the segment, however, climbed to $147 million, up from a loss of $131.4 million in 1999's fourth quarter.

Year-end Direct-To-Home Broadcast segment revenue jumped about 35 percent to $5.2 billion, compared with $3.8 billion in 1999. However, EBITDA was a negative $24.5 million, compared with $22.4 million the previous year. The operating loss for the year for this segment jumped to $557.9 million, compared with a loss of $289.6 million in 1999.

Total annual revenue at Hughes soared about 30 percent to $7.3 billion, up from $5.6 billion in 1999. EBITDA reached $594 million for the year, compared with $264 million the previous year. The operating loss was reduced from $414.5 million to $354.1 million during 2000.

Hughes said that this year it will continue to fuel growth with new product introductions, including DirecTV with Ultimate TV, the DirecTV/AOLTV receiver, DirecTV Broadband Powered By DirecPC, and a bundled DirecTV/

Telocity high-speed Internet DSL offering. The company said it would be the only U.S. provider to offer these combination TV/Internet services.

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