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DirecTV 4th-qtr. results top analysts' estimates

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — DirecTV's fourth-quarter net income declined 14 percent, hurt in part by increased expenses. The performance still topped analysts' expectations.

The No. 1 provider of satellite TV services in the U.S. also announced Wednesday that its board approved a new $3.5 billion stock repurchase program.

DirecTV earned $810 million, or $1.53 per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares with $942 million, or $1.55 per share, a year ago.

Analysts predicted earnings of $1.30 per share, according to a FactSet survey.

The prior-year period had a lower tax rate and also included a $111 million gain related to the sale of a stake in the Game Show Network.

Total operating costs and expenses rose to $7.26 billion from $6.76 billion. Income tax expense increased to $411 million from $276 million.

Revenue climbed 7 percent to $8.59 billion from $8.05 billion mostly on subscriber growth in the U.S. and Latin America.

Wall Street expected $8.48 billion in revenue.

For the year, DirecTV earned $2.86 billion, or $5.17 per share. In the previous year the El Segundo, Calif. company earned $2.95 billion, or $4.58 per share. Adjusted earnings were $5.42 per share. Annual revenue increased almost 7 percent to $31.75 billion from $29.74 billion.

DirecTV President and CEO Mike White said in a statement that the company ended 2013 with almost 38 million customers across the Americas.

Its shares gained $1.41, or 1.9 percent, to $74.35 in premarket trading about 90 minutes before the market opens. Its shares are up 51.6 percent over the past year.

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