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Discovery's 4Q profit down on costs

SILVER SPRINGS, Md. (AP) -- Discovery Communications Inc. on Thursday reported a drop in its fourth-quarter profit, as higher taxes, acquisition costs and equity-based compensation outweighed the benefit of improved advertising sales at its cable channels.

The Silver Springs, Md.-based company reported that it earned $224 million, or 61 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 31. That's compared with $336 million, or 86 cents per share, earned in the same quarter of the prior year. Its total revenue increased 8 percent to $1.2 billion from $1.11 billion on gains in advertising revenue in the U.S. and abroad.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting the company to earn an adjusted 76 cents per share on revenue of $1.2 billion.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav said the appeal of the company's content resulted in larger audiences across the globe, which led to healthy advertising growth. He said the company is heading into 2013 after posting its highest fourth-quarter domestic viewership in the company's history.

The company forecast net income between $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion for 2013; analysts are looking for $1.22 billion. It forecast revenue between $5.58 billion and $5.7 billion for the year; analysts had predicted $5.18 billion.

Shares of the company fell 68 cents, less than 1 percent, to close at $70.84. Its shares remain at the higher end of their 52-week trading range of $42.79 and $72.10.