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DirecTV profit blows past estimates on LatAm growth

(Reuters) - Satellite TV provider DirecTV easily beat estimates for the first quarter on Tuesday, as better-than-expected growth in Latin America helped offset the negative effects of a currency devaluation in Venezuela.

The company's earnings were stronger than even the most optimistic of 18 Wall Street estimates, and shares rose 3.4 percent in premarket trading.

Net income attributable to DirecTV was $690 million, or $1.20 per share, compared with $731 million, or $1.07 per share, a year ago. Earnings per share rose, even though profit fell as the company's share count declined sharply.

Revenue jumped 8 percent to $7.58 billion.

Analysts expected earnings of $1.07 per share on revenue of $7.5 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

DirecTV took a $166 million charge in the quarter related to the devaluation of the Venezuelan currency in February. Much of DirecTV's subscriber growth in recent years has stemmed from Latin America, where it has been tapping into an expanding middle class with more spending power in countries like Brazil. It also operates in Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Chile and Ecuador.

In Latin America, it added 583,000 subscribers in the quarter, while analysts polled by StreetAccount expected some 519,000 subscribers.

In the United States, DirecTV added 21,000 net subscribers. Wall Street looked for an additional 25,000 net subscribers, on average, according to StreetAccount.

The stock rose to $59.95 premarket from a close of $57.96 on Monday.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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