Liberty Interactive
Liberty Interactive Corp (Form: 10-K, Received: 02/27/2015 06:20:39)

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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D. C. 20549

FORM 10-K

    ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014

OR

    TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                             to

Commission File Number 001-33982

LIBERTY INTERACTIVE CORPORATION

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

State of Delaware

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

84-1288730

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

 

 

12300 Liberty Boulevard

Englewood, Colorado

(Address of principal executive offices)

80112

(Zip Code)

 

Registrant's telephone number, including area code: (720) 875-5300

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

Name of exchange on which registered

 

 

Series A Liberty Interactive Common Stock, par value $.01 per share

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

Series B Liberty Interactive Common Stock, par value $.01 per share

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

Series A Liberty Ventures Common Stock, par value $.01 per share

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

Series B Liberty Ventures Common Stock, par value $.01 per share

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:  None

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  Yes     No 

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.  Yes     No 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports) and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes     No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes      No 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of Registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer" and "smaller reporting company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer 

Accelerated filer 

Non-accelerated filer 

(do not check if

smaller reporting company)

Smaller reporting company 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes      No 

The aggregate market value of the voting stock held by nonaffiliates of Liberty Interactive Corporation computed by reference to the last sales price of Liberty Interactive Corporation common stock, as of the closing of trading on the last trading day prior to June 30, 2014, was approximately $16.5 billion.

The number of outstanding shares of Liberty Interactive Corporation's common stock as of January 31, 2015 was:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Series A

 

Series B

 

Liberty Interactive common stock

 

445,514,269

 

28,877,554

 

Liberty Ventures common stock

 

134,527,932

 

6,991,142

 

 

Documents Incorporated by Reference

The Registrant's definitive proxy statement for its 2015 Annual Meeting of Stockholders is hereby incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

 

 


 

Table of Contents

LIBERTY INTERACTIVE CORPORATION

2014 ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10 K

Table of Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Part I

    

Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1.  

 

Business

 

I- 3

 

Item 1A.  

 

Risk Factors

 

I- 20

 

Item 1B.  

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

I- 39

 

Item 2.  

 

Properties

 

I- 39

 

Item 3.  

 

Legal Proceedings

 

I- 40

 

Item 4.  

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

I- 40

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part II

 

 

 

Item 5.  

 

Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

II- 1

 

Item 6.  

 

Selected Financial Data

 

II- 4

 

Item 7.  

 

Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

II- 6

 

Item 7A.  

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

II- 25

 

Item 8.  

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

II- 26

 

Item 9.  

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

II- 26

 

Item 9A.  

 

Controls and Procedures

 

II- 26

 

Item 9B.  

 

Other Information

 

II- 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part III

 

 

 

Item 10.  

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

III 1

 

Item 11.  

 

Executive Compensation

 

III 1

 

Item 12.  

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

III 1

 

Item 13.  

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

III 1

 

Item 14.  

 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

 

III 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part IV

 

 

 

Item 15.  

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

 

IV 1

 

 

 

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PART I.

 

Item 1.  Business.

 

(a) General Development of Business

 

Liberty Interactive Corporation, formerly known as Liberty Media Corporation, ("Liberty", the “Company”, “we”, “us” and “our”) owns interests in subsidiaries and other companies which are primarily engaged in the video and on-line commerce industries.  Through our subsidiaries and affiliates, we operate in North America, Europe and Asia.  Our principal businesses and assets include our significant consolidated subsidiaries QVC, Inc. ("QVC"), Backcountry.com, Inc. ("Backcountry"), Bodybuilding.com, LLC ("Bodybuilding"), CommerceHub and Evite, Inc. (“Evite”) and our equity affiliates Expedia, Inc. ("Expedia"), HSN, Inc. ("HSN"), FTD Companies, Inc. (“FTD”), Interval Leisure Group, Inc. (“Interval Leisure Group”) and LendingTree, Inc. (“LendingTree”).

 

On September 23, 2011, Liberty completed the split-off of a wholly owned subsidiary, Liberty Media Corporation ("LMC") (formerly known as Liberty CapStarz, Inc. and prior thereto known as Liberty Splitco, Inc.) (the "LMC Split-Off"). At the time of the LMC Split-Off, LMC owned all the assets, businesses and liabilities previously attributed to the Capital and Starz tracking stock groups. The LMC Split-Off was effected by means of a redemption of all of the Liberty Capital common stock and Liberty Starz common stock of Liberty in exchange for the common stock of LMC. Following the LMC Split-Off, Liberty and LMC operate as separately publicly traded companies and neither has any stock ownership, beneficial or otherwise, in the other.

 

On August 9, 2012, Liberty completed the approved recapitalization of its common stock through the creation of the Liberty Interactive common stock and Liberty Ventures common stock as tracking stocks. In the recapitalization, each holder of Liberty Interactive Corporation common stock remained a holder of the same amount and series of Liberty Interactive common stock and received 0.05 of a share of the corresponding series of Liberty Ventures common stock, by means of a dividend, with cash issued in lieu of fractional shares of Liberty Ventures common stock.

 

On October 3, 2014, Liberty reattributed from the Interactive Group to the Ventures Group approximately $1 billion in cash and its Digital Commerce companies, including Backcountry, Bodybuilding, CommerceHub, Provide Commerce, Inc., Evite and LMC Right Start, Inc. Subsequent to the reattribution, the Interactive Group is now referred to as the QVC Group. The QVC Group has attributed to it Liberty’s wholly-owned subsidiary QVC and its approximate 38% interest in HSN, along with cash and certain liabilities. In connection with the reattribution, the Liberty Interactive tracking stock trading symbol “LINTA” was changed to "QVCA" and the "LINTB" trading symbol to "QVCB," effective October 7, 2014. Other than the issuance of Liberty Ventures shares in the fourth quarter of 2014, the reattribution of tracking stock groups has no consolidated impact on Liberty.

 

Tracking stock is a type of common stock that the issuing company intends to reflect or "track" the economic performance of a particular business or "group," rather than the economic performance of the company as a whole. Liberty has two tracking stocks, QVC Group common stock and Liberty Ventures common stock, which are intended to track and reflect the economic performance of the QVC Group and Ventures Group, respectively. While the QVC Group and the Ventures Group have separate collections of businesses, assets and liabilities attributed to them, no group is a separate legal entity and therefore no group can own assets, issue securities or enter into legally binding agreements. Holders of tracking stock have no direct claim to the group's stock or assets and are not represented by separate boards of directors.

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Instead, holders of tracking stock are stockholders of the parent corporation, with a single board of directors and subject to all of the risks and liabilities of the parent corporation.

 

On August 27, 2014, Liberty completed the spin-off to holders of its Liberty Ventures common stock shares of its former wholly-owned subsidiary, Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, Inc. (“TripAdvisor Holdings”) (the “TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off”), which was effected as a pro-rata dividend of shares of TripAdvisor Holdings to the stockholders of Liberty’s Series A and Series B Liberty Ventures common stock. TripAdvisor Holdings is comprised of Liberty’s former 22% economic and 57% voting interest in TripAdvisor, Inc. as well as BuySeasons, Inc., Liberty’s former wholly-owned subsidiary, and a corporate level net debt balance of $350 million. This transaction has been recorded at historical cost due to the pro rata nature of the distribution. Following the completion of the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off, Liberty and TripAdvisor Holdings operate as separate, publicly traded companies, and neither has any stock ownership, beneficial or otherwise, in the other. The consolidated financial statements of Liberty have been prepared to reflect TripAdvisor Holdings as discontinued operations.

 

* * * * *

 

Certain statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements regarding our business, product and marketing strategies; new service offerings; revenue growth at QVC; the recoverability of our goodwill and other long-lived assets; our projected sources and uses of cash; and the anticipated impact of certain contingent liabilities related to legal and tax proceedings and other matters arising in the ordinary course of business.  In particular, statements under Item 1. "Business," Item 1A. "Risk-Factors," Item 2. "Properties," Item 7. "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and Item 7A. "Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk" contain forward-looking statements.  Where, in any forward-looking statement, we express an expectation or belief as to future results or events, such expectation or belief is expressed in good faith and believed to have a reasonable basis, but there can be no assurance that the expectation or belief will result or be achieved or accomplished.  The following include some but not all of the factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated:

 

·

customer demand for our products and services and our ability to adapt to changes in demand;

·

competitor responses to our products and services;

·

increased digital TV penetration and the impact on channel positioning of our programs;

·

the levels of online traffic to our businesses' websites and our ability to convert visitors into consumers or contributors;

·

uncertainties inherent in the development and integration of new business lines and business strategies;

·

our future financial performance, including availability, terms and deployment of capital;

·

our ability to successfully integrate and recognize anticipated efficiencies and benefits from the businesses we acquire;

·

the ability of suppliers and vendors to deliver products, equipment, software and services;

·

the outcome of any pending or threatened litigation;

·

availability of qualified personnel;

·

changes in, or failure or inability to comply with, government regulations, including, without limitation, regulations of the Federal Communications Commission, and adverse outcomes from regulatory proceedings;

·

changes in the nature of key strategic relationships with partners, distributors, suppliers and vendors;

·

domestic and international economic and business conditions and industry trends;

·

consumer spending levels, including the availability and amount of individual consumer debt;

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·

changes in distribution and viewing of television programming, including the expanded deployment of personal video recorders, video on demand and IP television and their impact on home shopping programming;

·

rapid technological changes;

·

failure to protect the security of personal information about our customers,  subjecting us to potentially costly government enforcement actions or private litigation and reputational damage;

·

the regulatory and competitive environment of the industries in which we operate;

·

threatened terrorist attacks, political unrest in international markets  and ongoing military action around the world; and

·

fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates.

 

These forward-looking statements and such risks, uncertainties and other factors speak only as of the date of this Annual Report, and we expressly disclaim any obligation or undertaking to disseminate any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statement contained herein, to reflect any change in our expectations with regard thereto, or any other change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.  When considering such forward-looking statements, you should keep in mind the factors described in Item 1A, "Risk Factors" and other cautionary statements contained in this Annual Report.  Such risk factors and statements describe circumstances which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement.

 

This Annual Report includes information concerning public companies in which we have controlling and non-controlling interests that file reports and other information with the SEC in accordance with the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.  Information in this Annual Report concerning those companies has been derived from the reports and other information filed by them with the SEC.  If you would like further information about these companies, the reports and other information they file with the SEC can be accessed on the Internet website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov.  Those reports and other information are not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report.

 

(b) Financial Information About Operating Segments

 

Through our ownership of interests in subsidiaries and other companies, we are primarily engaged in the video and on-line commerce industries.  Each of these businesses is separately managed.

 

We identify our reportable segments as (A) those consolidated subsidiaries that represent 10% or more of our annual consolidated revenue, Adjusted OIBDA (defined in Part II, Item 7 of this report) or total assets and (B) those equity method affiliates whose share of earnings represent 10% or more of our annual pre-tax earnings.  Financial information related to our operating segments can be found in note 18 to our consolidated financial statements found in Part II of this report.

 

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(c) Narrative Description of Business

 

The following table identifies our more significant subsidiaries and minority investments:

 

 

Consolidated Subsidiaries

QVC, Inc.

Backcountry.com, Inc.

Bodybuilding.com, LLC

CommerceHub

Evite, Inc.

 

Equity Method Investments

Expedia, Inc. (Nasdaq:EXPE)

HSN, Inc. (Nasdaq:HSNI)

FTD Companies, Inc. (Nasdaq:FTD)

Interval Leisure Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:IILG)

LendingTree, Inc. (Nasdaq:TREE)

 

QVC, Inc.

 

QVC, Inc. ("QVC"), a wholly-owned subsidiary, markets and sells a wide variety of consumer products primarily through live televised shopping programs distributed to approximately 317 million worldwide households each day (including the joint venture in China as discussed below in further detail) and via its websites and other interactive media, including QVC.com. The name, QVC, stands for "Quality, Value and Convenience," which is what QVC strives to deliver to its customers. QVC’s operating strategy is to create a premier multimedia lifestyle brand and shopping destination for its customers, further penetrate its core customer base, generate new customers, enhance programming distribution offerings and expand internationally to drive revenue and profitability. For the year ended December 31, 2014, approximately 92% of its worldwide shipped sales were from repeat and reactivated customers (i.e., customers who made a purchase from QVC during the prior twelve months and customers who previously made a purchase from QVC but not during the prior twelve months, respectively). In the same period, QVC attracted approximately 3.2 million new customers. QVC’s global e-commerce operation comprised $3.5 billion, or 40%, of its consolidated net revenue for the year ended December 31, 2014.

 

QVC markets its products in an engaging, entertaining format primarily through live television programs and interactive features on its websites.  In the U.S., QVC distributes its programming live 24 hours per day, 364 days per year and presents on average 819 products every week. Internationally, QVC distributes live programming 17 to 24 hours per day, depending on the market.  QVC classifies their product into six groups: home, beauty, apparel, jewelry, accessories and electronics, which, in 2014, accounted for 32%, 17%, 16%, 12%, 12% and 11% respectively, of its consolidated shipped sales.  For the year ended December 31, 2013, such percentages were 31%, 17%, 16%, 12%, 12%  and 12%, respectively. For the year ended December 31, 2012, such percentages were 30%, 16%, 16%, 13%, 12% and 13%, respectively.  Many of QVC's brands are exclusive, while others are created by well-known designers. It is QVC's product sourcing team's mission to research and locate compelling and differentiated products from manufacturers who have sufficient scale to meet anticipated demand. QVC offers many QVC-exclusive products, as well as popular brand name and lesser known products available from other retailers. Many of its products are endorsed by celebrities, designers and other well-known personalities who often join its presenters to personally promote their products and provide lead-in publicity on their own television shows. QVC believes that its ability to demonstrate product features and present “faces and places” differentiates and defines the QVC shopping experience. QVC closely monitors customer demand and its

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product mix to remain well-positioned and relevant in popular and growing retail segments, which QVC believes is a significant competitive advantage relative to competitors who operate bricks-and-mortar stores.

 

QVC does not depend on any single supplier or designer for a significant portion of its inventory purchases.

 

Since its inception, QVC has shipped over 1.7 billion packages in the U.S. alone. QVC operates nine distribution centers and eight call centers worldwide and is able to ship approximately 94% of its orders within 48 hours of order placement. In 2014, QVC's work force of approximately 17,300 employees handled approximately 167 million customer calls, shipped approximately 173 million units globally and served approximately 12 million customers. QVC believes its long-term relationships with major U.S. television distributors, including cable operators (e.g., Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox), satellite television providers (e.g., DISH Network and DIRECTV) and telecommunications companies (e.g., Verizon and AT&T), provide it with broad distribution, favorable channel positioning and significant competitive advantages. QVC believes that its significant market share, brand awareness, outstanding customer service, repeat customer base, international reach and scalable infrastructure distinguishes QVC from its competitors.

 

QVC-U.S.'s live televised shopping programs are distributed nationally, 24 hours per day, 364 days per year, to approximately 108 million television households. QVC distributes its programming to approximately 98% of television households subscribing to services offered by television distributors. QVC-U.S. programming is also available on QVC.com, its domestic website, and mobile applications via streaming video. QVC-U.S., including QVC.com, contributed $6.1 billion, or 68.8%, of consolidated net revenue for the year ended December 31, 2014.

 

In March 2013, QVC-U.S. launched over-the-air broadcasting in designated U.S. markets that can be accessed by any television household with a digital antennae in such markets, regardless of whether it subscribes to a paid television service.  This allows QVC-U.S. to reach new customers who previously did not have access to the program through other television platforms.

In August 2013, QVC-U.S. launched an additional channel, QVC Plus, which is being distributed through cable and satellite systems.  The channel generally offers the same programming as the live channel, but on a three hour pre-recorded delay, which allows viewers to have access to a broader range of QVC programming options as well as more relevant programming for viewers in differing time zones.

QVC.com, launched in 1996, complements QVC-U.S.'s televised shopping programs by allowing consumers to purchase a wide assortment of goods offered on its televised programs, as well as other products that are available only on QVC.com. QVC views e-commerce as a natural extension of its business, allowing it to stream live video and offer on-demand video segments of items recently presented live on its televised programs. QVC.com allows shoppers to browse, research, compare and perform targeted searches for products, control the order entry process and conveniently access their QVC account. For the year ended December 31, 2014, QVC.com generated net revenue of $2.7 billion, or 45.3% of its total domestic net revenue. For the year ended December 31, 2014, approximately 70% of new U.S. customers made their first purchase through QVC.com.

QVC's televised shopping programs reached approximately 120 million television households outside of the U.S., primarily in Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy. In addition, QVC's joint venture in China reached approximately 89 million homes. Beyond the main QVC channels, QVC-Germany and the QVC-U.K. also broadcast pre-recorded shows on additional channels that offer viewers access to a broader range of QVC programming options. These channels include QVC Beauty & Style and QVC Plus in Germany and QVC Beauty, QVC Extra and QVC Style in the U.K. The programming created for most of these markets is also available via streaming video on its international websites

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and mobile applications. QVC's international businesses each employ product sourcing teams who select products tailored to the interests of each local market. For the year ended December 31, 2014, QVC's international operations generated $2.7 billion of consolidated net revenue and $481 million of Adjusted OIBDA (defined in Part II, Item 7 of this report), and QVC's international websites generated $793 million, or 28.9%, of its total international net revenue.

On July 4, 2012, QVC entered into a joint venture with Beijing based CNR Media Group, formerly known as China Broadcasting Corporation, a limited liability company owned by China National Radio (“CNR”), China's government owned radio division. The joint venture, CNR Home Shopping Co., Ltd. (“CNRS”), is owned 49% by QVC and 51% by CNR through subsidiaries of each company. CNRS operates a retailing business in China through a shopping television channel with an associated website. This joint venture is combining CNRS's existing knowledge of the digital shopping market and consumers in China with QVC's global experience and know-how in multimedia retailing.

On April 16, 2014, QVC announced plans to expand its global presence into France. Similar to its other markets, QVC plans to   offer a highly immersive digital shopping experience, with strong integration across e-commerce, TV, mobile and social   platforms, with the launch expected for the summer of 2015.

QVC distributes its television programs, via satellite and optical fiber, to cable television and direct-to-home satellite system operators for retransmission to their subscribers in the U.S., Germany, Japan, the U.K. and neighboring countries. QVC also transmits its television programs over digital terrestrial broadcast television to viewers throughout Italy, the U.K. and to viewers in certain geographic regions in the U.S and Germany. In the U.S., QVC uplinks its analog and digital programming transmissions using a third-party service. Both transmissions are uplinked to protected, non-preemptible transponders on U.S. satellites. "Protected" status means that, in the event of a transponder failure, the signal will be transferred to a spare transponder or, if none is available, to a preemptible transponder located on the same satellite or, in certain cases, to a transponder on another satellite owned by the same service provider if one is available at the time of the failure. "Non-preemptible" status means that, in the event of a transponder failure, QVC's transponders cannot be preempted in favor of a user of a failed transponder, even another user with "protected status." The international business units each obtain uplinking services from third parties and transmit their programming to non-preemptible transponders on international satellites. The transponder service agreements for the U.S. transponders expire at the earlier of the end of the lives of the satellites or the service agreements. The service agreements expire in 2019 through 2020. The transponder service agreements for the international transponders expire in 2015 through 2024.

QVC continually seeks to expand and enhance its television and e-commerce platforms, as well as to further its international operations and multimedia capabilities. QVC launched QVCHD in the U.S. in April 2008, and in May 2009, became the first U.S. multimedia retailer to offer a native HD service. QVCHD is a high-definition simulcast of QVC's U.S. telecast utilizing the full 16x9 screen ratio, while keeping the side panel for additional information. High-definition, or HD, programming allows QVC to utilize a typically wider television screen with crisper and more colorful images to present a larger “storefront,” which QVC believes captures the attention of channel “surfers” and engages its customers. In the U.S., QVCHD reached approximately 80 million television households, as it continues to develop and launch features to further enrich the television viewing experience.

QVC enters into long-term affiliation agreements with certain of its television distributors who downlink its programming and distribute the programming to customers.  QVC's affiliation agreements with both domestic and international distributors have termination dates ranging from 2015 to 2022. QVC's ability to continue to sell products to its customers is dependent on its ability to maintain and renew these affiliation agreements in the future. Although QVC is typically successful in obtaining and renewing these agreements, it does not have distribution agreements with some of the distributors that carry its programming. In total, QVC is currently providing programming without affiliation agreements to distributors representing approximately 6% of its U.S. distribution, and short-term, rolling 90 day letters of extension,

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to distributors who represent approximately 24% of its U.S. distribution. Some of its international programming may continue to be carried by distributors after the expiration dates on its affiliation agreements with such distributors have passed.

 

In return for carrying QVC's signals, each programming distributor in the U.S. receives an allocated portion, based upon market share, of up to 5% of the net sales of merchandise sold via the television programs and from certain Internet sales to customers located in the programming distributor's service areas. In Germany, Japan, the U.K. and Italy, programming distributors predominately receive an agreed-upon annual fee, a monthly fee per subscriber regardless of the net sales, a variable percentage of net sales or some combination of the above arrangements.

 

In addition to sales-based commissions or per-subscriber fees, QVC also makes payments to distributors primarily in the U.S. for carriage and to secure positioning within a broadcast area or within the general entertainment area on the distributor's channel line-up.  QVC believes that a portion of its sales are attributable to purchases resulting from channel “surfing” and that a channel position near broadcast networks and more popular cable networks increases the likelihood of such purchases. As technology evolves, QVC will continue to monitor optimal channel placement and attempt to negotiate agreements with its distributors to maximize the viewership of its television programming.

 

QVC enjoys a very loyal customer base, as demonstrated by the fact that for the twelve months ended December 31, 2014, approximately 86% of its worldwide shipped sales came from repeat customers (i.e., customers who made a purchase from QVC during the prior twelve months), who spent an average of $1,328 each during this period. An additional 6% of shipped sales in that period came from reactivated customers (i.e., customers who previously made a purchase from QVC, but not during the prior twelve months).

QVC believes its core customer base represents an attractive demographic target market. Based on internal customer data, approximately 53% of its 8 million domestic customers for the twelve months ended December 31, 2014 were women between the ages of 35 and 64.

QVC strives to be prompt and efficient in order taking and fulfillment. QVC has three domestic phone centers located in San Antonio, Texas; Port St. Lucie, Florida; and Chesapeake, Virginia that can direct calls from one call center to another as volume mandates. This ability to transfer calls reduces a caller's hold time, helping to ensure that orders will not be lost as a result of abandoned or unanswered calls. QVC also has one phone center in each of Japan, the U.K. and Italy and two call centers in Germany. Many markets also utilize home agents to handle calls, allowing staffing flexibility for peak hours. In addition, QVC utilizes computerized voice response units, which handle approximately 29% of all orders taken on a worldwide basis.

In addition to taking orders from its customers through phone centers and online, QVC continues to expand its ordering platforms. QVC is expanding mobile device ordering capabilities and over the past several years has launched iPhone and iPad applications, Android and Blackberry applications, a WAP (wireless application protocol) mobile website and a robust SMS (short message services) program. On a global basis, customers placed approximately 17% of all orders directly through their mobile devices in 2014.

Through QVC's nine worldwide distribution centers, QVC shipped approximately 94% of its orders within 48 hours of order placement in the year ended December 31, 2014. QVC's domestic distribution centers are located in Suffolk, Virginia; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; West Chester, Pennsylvania; Rocky Mount, North Carolina; and Florence, South Carolina. QVC also has distribution centers in Sakura-shi, Chiba, Japan, Hücklehoven, Germany, Knowsley, UK and Castel San Giovanni, Italy.

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QVC has built a scalable operating infrastructure focused on sustaining efficient, flexible and cost-effective sale and distribution of its products. Since its physical store locations are minimal, QVC requires lower inventory levels and capital expenditures compared to traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers. In recent years, QVC has made significant investments in its distribution centers and information technology systems that it believes will accommodate its foreseeable growth needs. Further, since QVC has no set “floor plan” and can closely manage inventory levels at its centralized warehouses, QVC believes it has the flexibility to analyze and react quickly to changing trends and demand by shifting programming time and product mix. QVC's cost structure is highly variable, which QVC believes allows it to consistently achieve attractive margins relative to bricks-and-mortar retailers.

QVC's web and mobile platforms are fully integrated with its televised programming and product distribution capabilities. QVC's web and mobile platform features include a live video stream of its television programming, full integration with its order fulfillment, its product branding, as well as the thematic offerings and events that have become fundamental to its televised programming.

Third party carriers transport QVC's packages from its distribution centers to its customers. In each market where QVC operates, it has entered into long-term contracts with shipping companies, which in certain circumstances provides for favorable shipping rates.

QVC operates in a rapidly evolving and highly competitive retail business environment. Based on domestic net revenue for the twelve months ended December 31, 2014, QVC is the leading television retailer in the U.S. and generates substantially more net revenue than its closest two televised shopping competitors, HSN (an entity in which we have a 38% ownership interest as of December 31, 2014) and EVINE Live, formerly known as ShopHQ. QVC's international operations face similar competition in their respective markets, such as Shop Channel in Japan, HSE 24 in Germany and Ideal World in the United Kingdom.  Additionally, QVC has numerous and varied competitors at the national and local levels, ranging from large department stores to specialty shops, electronic retailers, direct marketing retailers, wholesale clubs, discount retailers, infomercial retailers, Internet retailers, and mail-order and catalog companies.

 

QVC also competes for access to customers and audience share with other providers of televised, online and hard copy entertainment and content. The price and availability of other programming and the conversion to digital programming platforms may unfavorably affect the placement of its programming in the channel line-ups of its distributors, and may affect its ability to obtain distribution agreements with small cable distributors. Competition from other programming also affects the compensation that must be paid to distributors for carriage, which continues to increase. Principal competitive factors for QVC include (i) value, quality and selection of merchandise; (ii) customer experience, including customer service and reliability of fulfillment and delivery services and (iii) convenience and accessibility of sales channels.

 

QVC regards its trademarks, service marks, copyrights, domain names, trade dress, trade secrets, proprietary technologies and similar intellectual property as critical to its success. QVC relies on a combination of trademark and copyright law, trade secret protection, and confidentiality and/or license agreements with its employees, customers, suppliers, affiliates and others to protect these proprietary rights. QVC has registered, or applied for the registration of, a number of domain names, trademarks, service marks and copyrights by U.S. and foreign governmental authorities and vigorously protects its proprietary rights against infringement.

 

Domestically, QVC has registered trademarks and service marks for a variety of items including, but not limited to its brand name, "QVC" and "Quality Value Convenience", the "Q QVC Ribbon Logo," “Q” and its proprietary products sold such as "Arte D'Oro", "Cook's Essentials", "Denim & Co.," "Diamonique", "Nature's Code," "Northern Nights" and

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"Ultrafine Silver."  Similarly, foreign registrations have been obtained for many trademarks and service marks for its brand name and propriety products including, but not limited to, "QVC" the "Q QVC Ribbon Logo," “Q,” "Breezies," "Denim & Co.," "Diamonique" and "Northern Nights." QVC considers the service mark for the "QVC" name the most significant trademark or service mark held by it because of its impact on market awareness across all of its geographic markets and on customers' identification with QVC. As with all domestic trademarks or service marks, QVC's trademark and service mark registrations in the United States are for a ten year period and are renewable every ten years, prior to their respective expirations, as long as the trademarks or service marks are used in the regular course of trade.

 

QVC's business is seasonal due to a higher volume of sales in the fourth calendar quarter related to year-end holiday shopping. In recent years, QVC has earned, on average, between 22% and 23% of its global revenue in each of the first three quarters of the year and 32% of its global revenue in the fourth quarter of the year.

 

Backcountry.com, Inc.

 

We acquired 81% of the equity of Backcountry in June 2007 and through additional acquisitions of 9%, our overall ownership at December 31, 2014 is 90%.  Backcountry is an e-retailer for outdoor adventure, cycling, action sports and motorcycle gear and clothing. Its nine separate websites cater to a variety of outdoor enthusiasts. Five of the sites offer name-brand products at retail prices, and three other sites offer substantial discounts to online shoppers on a flash-sales type basis.

 

Backcountry's primary site, Backcountry.com, offers over 900 brands and over 50,000 styles of high-end gear and clothing for backpacking, camping, trail running, skiing, rock climbing, kayaking and other outdoor sports.  Backcountry's action sports site, DogFunk.com, sells technical and lifestyle apparel and gear from established brands and niche manufacturers.    CompetitiveCyclist.com sells mountain bikes and road bikes, at retail prices. Backcountry’s motorcycle site, Motosport.com sells parts, accessories and apparel for street and dirt bike riders.  Backcountry's flash-sales type sites, SteepandCheap.com, WhiskeyMilitia.com, and Chainlove.com, feature a limited quantity of one highly discounted item at a time until such item sells out or times out, at which time it is immediately replaced with a new item. Additionally, the flash-sales sites feature curated collections of like items.  SteepandCheap.com serves backcountry adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts.  WhiskeyMilitia.com appeals to skateboarders, surfers, snowboarders and wakeboarders. Chainlove.com is a flash-sales type site for discounted road bike, mountain bike, and triathlon markets.  Through an acquisition in 2013, Backcountry expanded into Europe.  Based in Germany, Bergfreunde.de caters to the outdoor enthusiast in the European market.

 

Backcountry's business is seasonal, with approximately 35% of its revenue earned in the fourth quarter. Backcountry stores and ships all inventory from its two distribution centers located in Salt Lake City, Utah and Christiansburg, Virginia. Backcountry also houses a warehouse in Germany for Bergfruende.de. Staffing for the customer service center and warehouse is scalable, and Backcountry employs seasonal labor to react to higher volume during peak periods of the year.

 

Bodybuilding.com, LLC

 

On December 31, 2007, we acquired 82.9% of Bodybuilding. Subsequent to that time we have acquired an additional 7.1% of Bodybuilding, giving us overall ownership of 90.0%.

 

Bodybuilding is an Internet retailer of sports, fitness, and nutritional supplements. It also hosts an online health-and-fitness publication, offering free fitness content, workout programs, video trainers, recipes, health advice and motivational

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stories. The online e-retail model combines detailed product information and real-time user reviews on more than 15,000 health-and-fitness supplements and accessories to help the consumer achieve their health, fitness and appearance goals. Beyond the e-retail model, Bodybuilding.com is a site that provides the technology and the tools needed for personal training, nutrition, supplement expertise and support groups.

 

Bodybuilding’s customers include gym-goers, athletes, weightlifters, bodybuilders and any individual wanting to improve their mental and physical well-being.  Bodybuilding tries to offer a holistic experience for people looking to achieve their goals. BodySpace is an inclusive social networking site within Bodybuilding.com that allows people of varying health and fitness levels to discuss goal setting, techniques, supplementation and achievements as users track their progress.

 

Bodybuilding launched its primary website in 1999 and now has more than 22,000 pages of editorial content, more than 9,000 videos, over 16,000 pages of store content, more than 6.25 million forum threads, more than 110 million forum posts, nearly 30 million monthly unique visitors and more than 9 million BodySpace members.

 

Bodybuilding is one of the largest e-retailers in the supplement industry, seeking to offer its customers competitive prices and quality customer service. Bodybuilding's business is slightly seasonal; the first quarter of the year is its busiest, as people start to implement their New Year's resolutions toward health and fitness.

 

CommerceHub

 

CommerceHub, an approximately 99% owned subsidiary, provides a Software-as-a-Service platform for online retailers and their suppliers (manufacturers, and distributors). Retailers use the company's software to sell products to consumers without physically owning inventory, or managing the fulfillment of those products. A web-based catalog is available to retailers, who browse through products from a network of manufacturers and distributors. The retailer selects the products they want to sell and the product images and descriptions necessary to post the products for sale online are available through the CommerceHub solution. When consumers purchase products from the retailer, a purchase order is electronically delivered to the relevant supplier, which ships the ordered items directly to the consumer. The retailer is able to monitor the status of orders sent through CommerceHub to ensure that consumers receive the purchased products within the expected time frame.

 

Retailers that use CommerceHub receive the benefit of an expanded assortment of products available to consumers for purchase, without any capital investment in inventory or fulfillment operations.

 

CommerceHub charges retailers a fixed, one-time, setup fee to integrate their systems to CommerceHub, and a fixed monthly subscription fee for access to CommerceHub's OrderStream (order fulfillment) and ProductStream (product content management) applications. Additionally, CommerceHub charges retailers a fixed fee for every purchase order delivered to suppliers and a fee to view inventory levels of their respective suppliers.

 

Suppliers are charged a fixed, one-time, setup fee and a fixed monthly subscription fee for every retailer that they do business with on CommerceHub. Additionally, CommerceHub charges suppliers a fixed fee for every purchase order the supplier receives from a retailer.

 

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Evite, Inc.

 

With over 25 million registered users, Evite ( www.evite.com ), a wholly owned subsidiary, is an online invitation and social event planning service on the Web. Evite helps hosts get their parties started with hundreds of stylish invitation designs that are free and easy to use. Evite facilitates nearly 7 million parties, get-togethers and gatherings every year for which over 250 million online Evite invitations are sent each year. In addition to invitations, Evite also offers creative party ideas, planning checklists and other tools. Launched in 1998, Evite is headquartered in Los Angeles.

 

Expedia, Inc.

 

Expedia is an online travel company, empowering business and leisure travelers with the tools and information they need to efficiently research, plan, book and experience travel. Expedia seeks to grow its business through a dynamic portfolio of travel brands, including its majority owned subsidiaries that feature the world's broadest supply portfolio - including approximately 450,000 hotels in 200 countries, 400 airlines, packages, rental cars, cruises, as well as destination services and activities. Travel suppliers distribute and market products via its sites, its private label business and its call centers in order to reach its extensive, global audience.

 

Expedia operates a strong brand portfolio with global reach, targeting a broad range of travelers, travel suppliers and advertisers. The Expedia brand spans the widest swath of potential customers with travel options across a broad value spectrum, while the Hotels.com brand focuses specifically on a hotel only product offering. Expedia makes travel products and services available both on a stand-alone and package basis, primarily through two business models: the merchant model and the agency model. Under both models, Expedia facilitates the booking of hotel rooms, airline seats, car rentals and destination services from its travel suppliers. Under the merchant model, Expedia is the merchant of record. Under the agency model, the travel supplier is the merchant of record. Expedia makes travel products and services available from a variety of hotel companies, large and small commercial airlines, car rental companies, cruise lines and destination service providers.

 

Expedia provides 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week traveler sales and support by telephone or via e-mail. For purposes of operational flexibility, Expedia uses a combination of outsourced and in-house call centers. Expedia's call centers are located throughout the world, including extensive outsourced operations in the Philippines, El Salvador, Egypt and India. Expedia invested significantly in its call center technologies, with the goal of improving customer experience and increasing the efficiency of its call center agents. Expedia's systems infrastructure and web and database servers are housed in various locations, mainly in the United States, which have communication links as well as 24-hour monitoring and engineering support. The web hosting facilities have their own generators and multiple back-up systems. Significant amounts of Expedia's owned computer hardware for operating the websites are located at these facilities. For some critical systems, Expedia has both production and disaster-recovery facilities

 

We own an approximate 18% equity interest and 58% voting interest in Expedia.  We have entered into governance arrangements pursuant to which Mr. Barry Diller, Chairman of the Board and Senior Executive Officer of Expedia, may vote our shares of Expedia, subject to certain limitations.  Also through our governance arrangements with Mr. Diller, we have the right to appoint and have appointed 20% of the members of Expedia's board of directors, which is currently comprised of 10 members.

 

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HSN, Inc.

 

HSN became a separate public company in August 2008 in connection with the separation of IAC/InterActiveCorp into five separate companies.  HSN is an interactive multi-channel retailer with strong direct-to-consumer expertise among its two operating segments, HSN and Cornerstone Brands.  HSN offers innovative, differentiated retail experiences on TV, online, mobile, in catalogs, and in bricks-and-mortar stores.  HSN now reaches approximately 95 million homes (broadcast live 24 hours a day, seven days a week).  Cornerstone Brands comprises leading home and apparel lifestyle brands including Ballard Design, Frontgate, Garnet Hill, Grandin Road, Improvements, Chasing Fireflies and Travelsmith.  Cornerstone Brands distributes approximately 320 million catalogs annually, operates eight separate e-commerce sites, and runs 10 retail stores.

 

We own approximately 38% of the outstanding common stock of HSN.  We have entered into an agreement with HSN pursuant to which, among other things, we have the right to nominate 20% of the members of HSN's board of directors.  We have nominated two of the current nine board members.

 

FTD Companies, Inc.

 

FTD is a premier floral and gifting company that provides floral, gift and related products and services to consumers, retail florists, and other retail locations and companies in need of floral and gifting solutions. FTD uses the highly-recognized FTD® and Interflora® brands, both supported by the Mercury Man logo. While FTD primarily operates in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom (“U.K.”), and the Republic of Ireland, FTD has a worldwide presence in nearly 40,000 floral shops in 150 countries. FTD’s portfolio of brands also includes Flying Flowers, Flowers Direct, and Drake Algar in the U.K.

 

Liberty obtained its ownership interest in FTD during December 2014 in a transaction whereby Liberty exchanged its former w holly-owned subsidiary Provide for cash and a 35% ownership interest in FTD. We have entered into an agreement with FTD pursuant to which, among other things, we have the right to proportional representation on FTD’s board of directors based on our ownership interest in FTD.  In connection with this transaction, FTD increased its board of directors from seven to 11 directors. Liberty nominated the four additional directors to the board of directors.

 

Interval Leisure Group, Inc.

 

Interval Leisure Group is another of the companies spun off by IAC in August 2008.  Interval Leisure Group is a global provider of membership and leisure services to the vacation industry.  Interval has two operating segments: Membership and Exchange and Management and Rental. Interval, its principal business in the Membership and Exchange segment, has offered its resort developer clients and consumer members high-quality programs and services for more than 30 years.  Its approximately two million member families have access to a comprehensive package of year-round benefits, including the opportunity to exchange the use of their shared ownership vacation time for alternate accommodations.  Interval has a network of approximately 2,900 resorts in over 80 countries.  The Management and Rental segment provides hotel, condominium resort, timeshare resort and homeowners' association management, and rental services to both vacation property owners and vacationers at over 250 vacation properties, resorts and club locations in North America, Europe, Hawaii and Guam . Interval Leisure Group is headquartered in Miami, Florida, and operates in the U.S. and 16 other countries.

 

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We own approximately 29% of the outstanding common stock of Interval Leisure Group.  We have entered into an agreement with Interval Leisure Group pursuant to which, among other things, we have the right to nominate 20% of the members of Interval Leisure Group's board of directors.  We have nominated two of the current nine board members.

 

LendingTree, Inc.

 

LendingTree was also spun off by IAC in August 2008. LendingTree is the owner of several brands and businesses that provide information, tools, advice, products and services for critical transactions in their customers' lives. LendingTree’s family of brands includes: LendingTree®, GetSmart®,  DegreeTree®, LendingTreeAutos, DoneRight®, ServiceTree® and InsuranceTree®. Together, these brands serve as an ally for consumers who are looking to comparison shop for loans, home services, education, auto and other financial products from multiple business and professionals who compete for their business.  LendingTree is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

We own approximately 25% of the outstanding common stock of LendingTree.  We have entered into an agreement with LendingTree pursuant to which, among other things, we have the right to nominate 20% of the members of LendingTree’s board of directors.  We have nominated two of the current six board members.

 

Regulatory Matters

Programming and Interactive Television Services

 

Although QVC, a wholly owned subsidiary, and HSN, a business affiliate, market and sell consumer products through a variety of outlets, each does so, in large part, through live video programming services distributed by cable television systems, satellite systems and over-the-air broadcasters.  Consequently, regulation of programming services and the entities that distribute them can affect QVC and HSN.  In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) regulates broadcasters, the providers of satellite communications services and facilities for the transmission of programming services, the cable television systems and other multichannel video programming distributors ("MVPDs") that distribute such services, and, to some extent, the availability of the programming services themselves through its regulation of program licensing. Cable television systems in the United States are also regulated by municipalities or other state and local government authorities. Regulatory carriage requirements also could adversely affect the number of channels available to QVC and HSN.

 

Regulation of Program Licensing. The Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 (the 1992 Cable Act) directed the FCC to promulgate regulations regarding the sale and acquisition of cable programming between MVPDs (including cable operators) and satellite-delivered programming services in which a cable operator has an attributable interest. The 1992 Cable Act and implementing regulations generally prohibit a cable operator that has an attributable interest in a satellite programmer from improperly influencing the terms and conditions of sale to unaffiliated MVPDs. Further, the 1992 Cable Act requires that such affiliated programmers make their programming services available to cable operators and competing MVPDs such as multi-channel multi-point distribution systems and direct broadcast satellite ("DBS") distributors on terms and conditions that do not unfairly discriminate among distributors, and the FCC has established complaint enforcement and damages remedy procedures. FCC rules attribute the ownership interest in Charter Communications, Inc. of Liberty Broadband Corporation (“Liberty Broadband”), and Liberty Global plc’s ownership interest in Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico, LLC to us, thereby subjecting us and satellite-delivered programming services in which we have an interest to the program access rules. We are also subject to the program access rules as a condition of FCC approval of LMC’s transaction with News Corporation in 2008.

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On December 19, 2014, the FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comment on a proposal to revise the definition of MVPD in its rules to include services, such as Internet-based services, that make available for purchase by viewers, multiple linear streams of video programming, regardless of the technology used to distribute the programming.  If the FCC were to adopt its proposed definition and determine that the program access rules apply to such MVPDs, QVC and HSN potentially would be required to negotiate with, and license their programming services to, such MVPDs and to comply with other related regulatory requirements.

 

Regulation of Carriage of Programming. Under the 1992 Cable Act, the FCC has adopted regulations prohibiting cable operators from requiring a financial interest in a programming service as a condition to carriage of such service, coercing exclusive rights in a programming service or favoring affiliated programmers so as to restrain unreasonably the ability of unaffiliated programmers to compete. The FCC has established program carriage complaint rules.

 

Regulation of Ownership. The 1992 Cable Act required the FCC, among other things, (1) to prescribe rules and regulations establishing reasonable limits on the number of channels on a cable system that will be allowed to carry programming in which the owner of such cable system has an attributable interest and (2) to consider the necessity and appropriateness of imposing limitations on the degree to which MVPDs (including cable operators) may engage in the creation or production of video programming. Although the FCC adopted regulations limiting carriage by a cable operator of national programming services in which that operator holds an attributable interest in 1993, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the FCC's decision and remanded the rule to the FCC for further consideration in 2001. In response to the Court's decision, the FCC issued further notices of proposed rulemaking in 2001 and in 2005 to consider channel occupancy limitations, but has not issued any rules. Even if these rules were readopted by the FCC, they would have little impact on QVC and HSN.

 

Regulation of Carriage of Broadcast Stations. The 1992 Cable Act granted broadcasters a choice of must carry rights or retransmission consent rights. The rules adopted by the FCC generally provided for mandatory carriage by cable systems of all local full-power commercial television broadcast signals selecting must carry rights and, depending on a cable system's channel capacity, non-commercial television broadcast signals. Such statutorily mandated carriage of broadcast stations coupled with the provisions of the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, which require cable television systems with 36 or more "activated" channels to reserve a percentage of such channels for commercial use by unaffiliated third parties and permit franchise authorities to require the cable operator to provide channel capacity, equipment and facilities for public, educational and government access channels, could adversely affect QVC and HSN by limiting the carriage of such services in cable systems with limited channel capacity.

 

Closed Captioning Regulation. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 also required the FCC to establish rules and an implementation schedule to ensure that video programming is fully accessible to the hearing impaired through closed captioning. The rules adopted by the FCC require substantial closed captioning, with only limited exemptions. In 2012, the FCC adopted regulations pursuant to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 ("CVAA") that require, among other things, video programming owners to send caption files for Internet protocol ("IP") delivered video programming to video programming distributors and providers along with program files. A four year implementation period for the IP-delivered programming captioning requirements began in March 2012. In February 2014, the FCC adopted closed captioning quality standards regarding captioning accuracy, synchronicity, completeness and placement, and captioning best practices for programmers. These new closed captioning requirements take effect in March 2015. As a result, QVC and HSN may incur additional costs for closed captioning.

 

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Internet Services

 

Our online commerce businesses are subject, both directly and indirectly, to various laws and governmental regulations. Certain of these businesses engaged in the provision of goods and services over the Internet must comply with federal and state laws and regulations applicable to online communications and commerce. For example, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act ("COPPA") prohibits web sites from collecting personally identifiable information online from children under age 13 without parental consent and imposes a number of operational requirements. In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") adopted revised COPPA regulations amending certain definitions and modifying certain operational requirements regarding notice and parental consent, among other matters. Certain email activities are subject to the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, commonly known as the CAN-SPAM Act. The CAN-SPAM Act regulates the sending of unsolicited commercial email by requiring the email sender, among other things, to comply with specific disclosure requirements and to provide an "opt-out" mechanism for recipients. Both of these laws include statutory penalties for non-compliance. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act limits, but does not eliminate, liability for listing or linking to third party websites that may include content that infringes on copyrights or other rights so long as our Internet businesses comply with the statutory requirements. Various states also have adopted laws regulating certain aspects of Internet communications. Congress has extended the moratorium on state and local taxes on Internet access and commerce until October 1, 2015.  Legislative proposals that would further extend the moratorium on state and local taxes on Internet access and commerce are pending in Congress.

 

Goods sold over the Internet also must comply with traditional regulatory requirements, such as the FTC requirements regarding truthful and accurate claims. To the extent that Bodybuilding.com, for example, markets or sells nutritional or dietary supplements, its activities may be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") in certain respects. Dietary supplement distributors must comply with FDA regulations regarding supplement labeling and reporting.

 

Our online commerce businesses are subject to laws governing the collection, use, retention, security and transfer of personally-identifiable information about their users. In particular, the collection and use of personal information by companies has received increased regulatory scrutiny on a global basis. The enactment, interpretation and application of user data protection laws are in a state of flux, and the interpretation and application of such laws may vary from country to country. For example, new data laws that give customers additional rights and impose additional restrictions and penalties on companies for illegal collection and misuse of personal information are under final consideration in the European Union and may be enacted in 2015, and a European Union directive restricting the Internet tracking tools known as "cookies" has taken effect. In the U.S., the FTC has proposed a privacy policy framework, and legislation that would require organizations that suffer a breach of security related to personal information to notify owners of such information is pending in Congress. Many states have adopted laws requiring notification to users when there is a security breach affecting personal data, such as California's Information Practices Act. Complying with these different national and state privacy requirements may cause the Internet companies in which we have interests to incur substantial costs. In addition, such companies generally have and post on their websites privacy policies and practices regarding the collection, use and disclosure of user data. A failure to comply with such posted privacy policies or with the regulatory requirements of federal, state, or foreign privacy laws could result in proceedings or actions by governmental agencies or others (such as class action litigation) which could adversely affect our online commerce businesses. Technical violations of certain privacy laws can result in significant penalties, including statutory penalties. In 2012, the FCC amended its regulations under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"), which could subject our Internet businesses to increased liability for certain telephonic communications with customers, including but not limited to text messages to mobile phones. Under the TCPA, plaintiffs may seek actual monetary loss or statutory damages of $500 per violation, whichever is greater, and courts may treble such damage awards for willful or knowing violations. Data collection, privacy and security are growing public

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concerns. If consumers were to decrease their use of our Internet businesses' websites to purchase products and services, such businesses could be harmed.  Congress and individual states may consider additional online privacy legislation.

 

Other Internet-related laws and regulations enacted in the future may cover issues such as defamatory speech, copyright infringement, pricing and characteristics and quality of products and services. The future adoption of such laws or regulations may slow the growth of commercial online services and the Internet, which could in turn cause a decline in the demand for the services and products of our online commerce businesses and increase their costs of doing business or otherwise have an adverse effect on their businesses, operating results and financial conditions. Moreover, the applicability to commercial online services and the Internet of existing laws governing issues such as property ownership, libel, personal privacy and taxation is uncertain and could expose these companies to substantial liability.

 

In 2010, the FCC adopted rules in its open Internet proceeding that require all broadband providers to disclose network management practices, restrict broadband providers from blocking Internet content and applications, and prohibit fixed broadband providers from engaging in unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic. The open Internet rules could restrict the ability of broadband providers to block or otherwise disadvantage our Internet businesses. On January 14, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules, holding that the FCC did not have statutory authority to adopt such rules, but upheld the disclosure rule. On May 15, 2014, the FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding new open Internet rules for which all comment periods have expired.  On February 4, 2015, the Chairman of the FCC released a fact sheet summarizing the open Internet rules being circulated to the other FCC Commissioners for final consideration.  These rules reclassify broadband Internet access as a “telecommunications service” rather than an “information service” so that the FCC may adopt net neutrality rules under Title II of the Communications Act, as well as Section 706 of the  Telecommunications Act of 1996. The rules also would prohibit broadband providers from:  (1) blocking access to legal content, applications, services or non-harmful devices; (2) impairing or degrading lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; and (3) favoring some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration.  The FCC presently is scheduled to vote on the proposed open Internet rules at an open meeting on February 26, 2015. Legislation addressing these issues also is receiving preliminary consideration in Congress. 

 

Proposed Changes in Regulation  

 

The regulation of programming services, cable television systems, DBS providers,  Internet services, online sales and other forms of product marketing is subject to the political process and has been in constant flux over the past decade. Further material changes in the law and regulatory requirements must be anticipated and there can be no assurance that our business will not be adversely affected by future legislation, new regulation or deregulation.

 

Competition

 

Our businesses that engage in video and online commerce compete with traditional bricks-and-mortar and online retailers ranging from large department stores to specialty shops, electronic retailers, direct marketing retailers, such as mail order and catalog companies, and discount retailers.  Due to the nature of these businesses there is not a single or small group of competitors that own a significant portion of the overall market share.  However, some of these competitors, such as Amazon, have a significantly greater Web-presence than our e-commerce subsidiaries.  In addition, QVC and HSN compete for access to customers and audience share with each other and with other conventional forms of entertainment and content.  We believe that the principal competitive factors in the markets in which our electronic commerce businesses

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compete are high-quality products, brand recognition, selection, value, convenience, price, website performance, customer service and accuracy of order shipment.  Our businesses that offer services through the Internet compete with businesses that offer their own services directly through the Internet as well as with traditional offline providers of similar services.  Expedia also competes with hoteliers and airlines as well as travel planning service providers, including aggregator sites that offer inventory from multiple suppliers, such as airline sites, Orbitz, Travelocity and Priceline, and with American Express and Navigant International, providers of corporate travel services.  We believe that the principal competitive factors in the markets in which our businesses that offer services through the Internet engage are selection, price, availability of inventory, convenience, brand recognition, accessibility, customer service, reliability, website performance, and ease of use.

 

Employees

 

As of December 31, 2014, our corporate function is supported by a services agreement with LMC which has 78 corporate employees who are also considered employees of Liberty. Additionally, our consolidated subsidiaries had an aggregate of approximately 20,000 full and part-time employees.  We believe that our employee relations are good.

 

(d) Financial Information About Geographic Areas

 

For financial information related to the geographic areas in which we do business, see note 18 to our consolidated financial statements found in Part II of this report.

 

(e) Available Information

 

All of our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"), including our Form 10-Ks, Form 10-Qs and Form 8-Ks, as well as amendments to such filings are available on our Internet website free of charge generally within 24 hours after we file such material with the SEC.  Our website address is www.libertyinteractive.com.

 

Our corporate governance guidelines, code of business conduct and ethics, compensation committee charter, nominating and corporate governance committee charter, and audit committee charter are available on our website.  In addition, we will provide a copy of any of these documents, free of charge, to any shareholder who calls or submits a request in writing to Investor Relations, Liberty Interactive Corporation, 12300 Liberty Boulevard, Englewood, Colorado 80112, Tel. No. (877) 772-1518.

 

The information contained on our website is not incorporated by reference herein.

 

 

 

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

The risks described below and elsewhere in this annual report are not the only ones that relate to our businesses or our capitalization.  The risks described below are considered to be the most material.  However, there may be other unknown or unpredictable economic, business, competitive, regulatory or other factors that also could have material adverse effects on our businesses.  Past financial performance may not be a reliable indicator of future performance and historical trends should not be used to anticipate results or trends in future periods.  If any of the events described below were to occur, our businesses, prospects, financial condition, results of operations and/or cash flows could be materially adversely affected.

Risk Factors Related to our Company, the QVC Group and the Ventures Group

The risks described below apply to our company and to the businesses and assets attributable to the QVC Group (which we previously referred to as the Interactive Group) and the Ventures Group.

The historical financial information of the QVC Group and the Ventures Group included in this Form 10-K, may not necessarily reflect their results had they been separate companies.  One of the reasons for the creation of a tracking stock is to permit equity investors to apply more specific criteria in valuing the shares of a particular group, such as comparisons of earnings multiples with those of other companies in the same business sector. In valuing shares of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock, investors should recognize that the historical financial information of the QVC Group and the Ventures Group has been extracted from our consolidated financial statements prior to and for a period of time following the LMC Split-Off, as well as prior to and for a period of time following the creation of the Ventures Group in August 2012, and may not necessarily reflect what the QVC Group’s and the Ventures Group’s results of operations, financial condition and cash flows would have been had the QVC Group and the Ventures Group been separate, stand-alone entities pursuing independent strategies during the periods presented.

We have identified a material weakness in QVC’s internal control over financial reporting, that, if not properly remediated, could adversely affect our business and results of operations.  A material weakness is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the company’s annual or interim consolidated financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. As described in “Item 9A. -Controls and Procedures,” we have concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was ineffective as of December 31, 2014 due to a material weakness at our wholly-owned subsidiary, QVC.  Specifically, we identified a material weakness relating to the design and effectiveness of information technology general controls intended to ensure (i) that access to applications and data, and the ability to make program changes, were adequately restricted to appropriate personnel and (ii) that the activities of individuals with access to modify data and make program changes were appropriately monitored.  This material weakness did not result in any misstatements of our consolidated financial statements and disclosures for any annual or interim period.

 

As further described in “Item 9A. – Controls and Procedures,” we and QVC are in the process of taking the necessary steps to remediate the material weakness that we identified and have made enhancements to QVC’s control procedures; however, the material weakness will not be remediated until the necessary controls have been implemented and are determined to be operating effectively. Although no assurance can be given as to when the remediation plan will be completed, management believes the remediation efforts will be completed during the third quarter of 2015.

 

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We cannot assure you that our and QVC’s efforts to fully remediate this internal control weakness will be successful or that additional or similar material weaknesses will not develop or be identified.

 

Implementing any appropriate changes to QVC’s internal controls may distract its officers and employees and entail material costs to implement new processes and/or modify its existing processes. Moreover, these changes do not guarantee that we will be effective in maintaining the adequacy of QVC’s internal controls, and any failure to maintain that adequacy, or consequent inability to produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis, could harm our business. In addition, investors’ perceptions that QVC’s internal controls are inadequate or that we are unable to produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis may harm our stock price.

 

Our subsidiary QVC  depends on the television distributors that carry its programming, and no assurance can be given that QVC will be able to maintain and renew its affiliation agreements on favorable terms or at all. QVC currently distributes its programming through affiliation or transmission agreements with many television providers, including, but not limited to, Comcast, DIRECTV, DISH Network, Time Warner Cable and Cox in the U.S., JCN, Jupiter Telecommunications, Ltd., Sky Perfect and World Hi-Vision Channel, Inc. in Japan, Kabel Deutschland Vertrieb und Service GmbH, Media Broadcast GmbH, SES ASTRA, SES Platform Services GmbH, Telekom Deutschland GmbH, Unitymedia Kabel BW GmbH, Tele Columbus and Primacom  in Germany, A1 Telekom Austria AG and UPC Telekabel Wien GmbH in Austria, Arqiva, British Sky Broadcasting, Freesat, SDN and Virgin Media in the United Kingdom and Mediaset, Hot Bird and Sky Italia in Italy. QVC’s affiliation agreements with its distributors are scheduled to expire between 2015 and 2022.  As part of normal course renewal discussions, occasionally QVC has disagreements with its distributors over the terms of its carriage, such as channel placement or other contract terms. If not resolved through business negotiation, such disagreements could result in litigation or termination of an existing agreement. Termination of an existing agreement resulting in the loss of distribution of QVC’s programming to a material portion of its television households may adversely affect its growth, net revenue and earnings.  The renewal negotiation process for affiliation agreements is typically lengthy. In some cases, renewals are not agreed upon prior to the expiration of a given agreement while the programming continues to be carried by the relevant distributor without an effective agreement in place. QVC does not have distribution agreements with some of the cable operators that carry its programming. In total, QVC is currently providing programming without affiliation agreements to distributors representing approximately 6% of its U.S. distribution, and short-term, rolling 90 day letters of extension, to distributors who represent approximately 24% of its U.S. distribution. Some of QVC’s international programming may continue to be carried by distributors after the expiration dates on its affiliation agreements with them have passed.  QVC may be unable to obtain renewals with its current distributors on acceptable terms, if at all. QVC may also be unable to successfully negotiate affiliation agreements with new or existing distributors to carry its programming. Although QVC considers its current levels of distribution without written agreement to be ordinary course, the failure to successfully renew or negotiate new affiliation agreements covering a material portion of television households could result in a discontinuation of carriage that may adversely affect its viewership, growth, net revenue and earnings.

 

Our programming and online commerce businesses depend on their relationships with third party suppliers and vendors and any adverse changes in these relationships could adversely affect our results of operation and those attributed to any of our groups. An important component of the success of our programming and online commerce businesses is their ability to maintain their existing, as well as build new, relationships with a limited number of local and foreign suppliers and vendors, among other parties. There can be no assurance that our subsidiaries and business affiliates will be able to maintain their existing supplier or vendor arrangements on commercially reasonable terms or at all or, with respect to goods sourced from foreign markets, if the supply costs will remain stable. In addition, our subsidiaries and business affiliates cannot guarantee that goods produced and delivered by third parties will meet applicable quality

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standards, which is impacted by a number of factors, some which are not within the control of these parties. Adverse changes in existing relationships or the inability to enter into new arrangements with these parties on favorable terms, if at all, could cause a failure to meet customer expectations and timely delivery of products, which could in turn have a significant adverse effect on our results of operations and those attributed to our groups.

 

Our businesses attributed to each group are subject to risks of adverse government regulation. Our programming businesses, such as QVC and HSN, market and provide a broad range of merchandise through television shopping programs and proprietary websites.  Similarly, our online commerce businesses, such as Expedia and the e-commerce companies, market and provide a broad range of merchandise and/or services through their proprietary websites. As a result, these businesses are subject to a wide variety of statutes, rules, regulations, policies and procedures in various jurisdictions, including foreign jurisdictions, which are subject to change at any time, including laws regarding consumer protection, privacy, the regulation of retailers generally, the license requirements for television retailers in foreign jurisdictions, the importation, sale and promotion of merchandise and the operation of retail stores and warehouse facilities, as well as laws and regulations applicable to the Internet and businesses engaged in online commerce, such as those regulating the sending of unsolicited, commercial electronic mail. The failure by our businesses to comply with these laws and regulations could result in a revocation of required licenses, fines and/or proceedings by governmental agencies and/or consumers, which could adversely affect our businesses, financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, unfavorable changes in the laws, rules and regulations applicable to our businesses could decrease demand for our products and services, increase costs and/or subject our businesses to additional liabilities. Similarly, new disclosure and reporting requirements, established under existing or new state or federal laws, such as regulatory rules regarding requirements to disclose efforts to identify the origin and existence of certain “conflict minerals” or abusive labor practices in portions of QVC’s supply chain, could increase the cost of doing business, adversely affecting our results of operations. In addition, certain of these regulations may impact the marketing efforts of our brands and businesses.

As mentioned above, the manner in which certain of our subsidiaries and business affiliates sell and promote merchandise and related claims and representations made in connection with these efforts is regulated by federal, state and local law, as well as the laws of the foreign countries in which they operate. Certain of our subsidiaries and business affiliates may be exposed to potential liability from claims by purchasers or from regulators and law enforcement agencies, including, but not limited to, claims for personal injury, wrongful death and damage to personal property relating to merchandise sold and misrepresentation of merchandise features and benefits. In certain instances, these subsidiaries and business affiliates have the right to seek indemnification for related liabilities from their respective vendors and may require such vendors to carry minimum levels of product liability and errors and omissions insurance. These vendors, however, may be unable to satisfy indemnification claims, obtain suitable coverage or maintain this coverage on acceptable terms, or insurance may provide inadequate coverage or be unavailable with respect to a particular claim.

In addition, programming services, cable television systems, the Internet, telephony services and satellite service providers are subject to varying degrees of regulation in the United States by the FCC and other entities and in foreign countries by similar regulators. Such regulation and legislation are subject to the political process and have been in constant flux over the past decade. The application of various sales and use tax provisions under state, local and foreign law to the products and services of our subsidiaries and certain of our business affiliates sold via the Internet, television and telephone is subject to interpretation by the applicable taxing authorities, and no assurance can be given that such authorities will not take a contrary position to that taken by our subsidiaries and certain of our business affiliates, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses. In addition, there have been numerous attempts at the federal, state and local levels to impose additional taxes on online commerce transactions. Moreover, most foreign countries in which our subsidiaries or business affiliates have, or may in the future make, an investment regulate, in varying degrees, the distribution, content and ownership of programming services and foreign investment in programming companies and the Internet.

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In addition, certain of our businesses are subject to consent decrees issued by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) barring them from making deceptive claims for specified weight-loss products and dietary supplements and prohibiting them from making certain claims about specified weight-loss, dietary supplement and anti-cellulite products unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate such claims. Violation of these consent decrees may result in the imposition of significant civil penalties for non-compliance and related redress to consumers and/or the issuance of an injunction enjoining these businesses from engaging in prohibited activities. Further material changes in the law and increased regulatory requirements must be anticipated, and there can be no assurance that the businesses and assets attributed to each group will not become subject to increased expenses or more stringent restrictions as a result of any future legislation, new regulation or deregulation.

Weak economic conditions worldwide may reduce consumer demand for our products and services. The prolonged economic uncertainty in various regions of the world in which our subsidiaries and affiliates operate could adversely affect demand for our products and services since a substantial portion of our revenue is derived from discretionary spending by individuals, which typically falls during times of economic instability. Global financial markets continue to experience disruptions, including increased volatility and diminished liquidity and credit availability. If economic and financial market conditions in the U.S. or other key markets, including Japan and Europe, remain uncertain, persist, or deteriorate further, customers of our subsidiaries and affiliates may respond by suspending, delaying, or reducing their discretionary spending. A suspension, delay or reduction in discretionary spending could adversely affect revenue across each of our tracking stock groups. Accordingly, our ability to increase or maintain revenue and earnings could be adversely affected to the extent that relevant economic environments remain weak or decline. Such weak economic conditions may also inhibit the expansion of our subsidiaries and affiliates into new European and other markets. We currently are unable to predict the extent of any of these potential adverse effects.

 

We may be subject to significant tax liabilities related to the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off.   In connection with the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off , we received a ruling from the IRS (“Ruling”) and an opinion of tax counsel, in each case to the effect that the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off will qualify as a tax-free transaction to our company and to the holders of our Ventures Group tracking stock under Section 355, Section 368(a)(1)(D) and related provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (“Code”).  Although the Ruling is generally binding on the IRS, the Ruling does not address certain requirements necessary to obtain tax-free treatment to our company and the holders of our Ventures Group tracking stock as a result of the IRS’s ruling policy with respect to transactions under Section 355 of the Code (and instead is based upon representations made by Liberty that these requirements have been satisfied), and the continuing validity of the Ruling is subject to the accuracy of representations and factual statements made by Liberty to the IRS.  Further, an opinion of tax counsel is not binding on the IRS or the courts, and the conclusions expressed in such opinion could be challenged by the IRS, and a court could sustain such challenge.  In October 2014, the IRS completed its examination of the TripAdvisor Holding Spin-Off and notified Liberty that it agreed with the nontaxable characterization of the transaction.   If it is determined, for whatever reason, that the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off does not qualify for tax-free treatment, our company and/or the holders of our Ventures Group tracking stock could incur significant tax liabilities. 

 

Prior to the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off, we entered into a tax sharing agreement with TripAdvisor Holdings.  Under this agreement, our company is generally responsible for any taxes and losses resulting from the failure of the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off to qualify as a tax-free transaction; however, TripAdvisor Holdings is required to indemnify our company for any taxes and losses which (i) result primarily from, individually or in the aggregate, the breach of certain covenants made by TripAdvisor Holdings (applicable to actions or failures to act by TripAdvisor Holdings and its subsidiaries following the completion of the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off), or (ii) result from the application of Section 355(e) of the Code to the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off as a result of the treatment of the TripAdvisor Holdings

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Spin-Off as part of a plan (or series of related transactions) pursuant to which one or more persons acquire, directly or indirectly, a 50-percent or greater interest (measured by either vote or value) in the stock of TripAdvisor Holdings or any successor corporation.  As the taxpaying entity, however, we are subject to the risk of non-payment by TripAdvisor Holdings of its indemnification obligations under the tax sharing agreement. 

 

To preserve the tax-free treatment of the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off, we may determine to forego certain transactions that might have otherwise been advantageous to our company, including certain asset dispositions or other strategic transactions for some period of time following the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off.  In addition, our potential tax liabilities related to the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off might discourage, delay or prevent a change of control transaction for some period of time following the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off.  

 

Rapid technological advances could render the products and services offered by our subsidiaries and our business affiliates attributed to our QVC Group and our Ventures Group obsolete or non-competitive .  Our subsidiaries and business affiliates attributed to each group must stay abreast of rapidly evolving technological developments and offerings to remain competitive and increase the utility of their services. As their operations grow in size and scope, our subsidiaries and business affiliates must continuously improve and upgrade their systems and infrastructure while maintaining or improving the reliability and integrity of their systems and infrastructure. These subsidiaries and business affiliates must be able to incorporate new technologies into their products and services in order to address the needs of their customers. The emergence of alternative platforms such as mobile and tablet computing devices and the emergence of niche competitors who may be able to optimize products, services or strategies for such platforms will require new investment in technology. New developments in other areas, such as cloud computing, could also make it easier for competition to enter their markets due to lower up-front technology costs. There can be no assurance that our subsidiaries and business affiliates will be able to compete with advancing technology or be able to maintain existing systems or replace or introduce new technologies and systems as quickly as they would like or in a cost-effective manner, and any failure to do so could result in customers seeking alternative service providers and may adversely affect the group to which they are attributed, thereby adversely impacting our revenue and operating income.

 

Our subsidiaries and business affiliates attributed to each of our QVC and Ventures Groups conduct their businesses under highly competitive conditions.  Although QVC and HSN are two of the nation’s largest home shopping networks, they and the e-commerce businesses attributed to the Ventures Group have numerous and varied competitors at the national and local levels, ranging from large department stores to specialty shops, electronic retailers, direct marketing retailers, wholesale clubs, discount retailers, infomercial retailers, internet retailers, and mail-order and catalog companies.  In addition, QVC competes with HSN as well as other televised shopping retailers, such as EVINE Live in the U.S., Shop Channel in Japan, HSE 24 in Germany and Ideal World in the United Kingdom.  QVC also competes for access to customers and audience share with other providers of televised, online and hard copy entertainment and content. Similarly, Expedia, our online travel-oriented business, faces significant competition from travel agencies (both bricks-and-mortar and online) as well as from travel destination sites and Internet search portals.   Competition is characterized by many factors, including assortment, advertising, price, quality, service, accessibility, site functionality, reputation and credit availability, as well as the financial, technical and marketing expertise of competitors. For example, many of our businesses’ competitors have greater resources, longer histories, more customers and greater brand recognition than our businesses do, and competitors may secure better terms from vendors, adopt more aggressive pricing, offer free or subsidized shipping and devote more resources to technology, fulfillment and marketing.  For example, Bodybuilding.com competes with retailers such as GNC, and Backcountry.com competes with retailers such as REI, which have both online and bricks-and-mortar operations. Other companies also may enter into business combinations or alliances that strengthen

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their competitive positions.   If our subsidiaries and business affiliates do not compete effectively with regard to these factors, our results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

 

The sales and operating results of the businesses attributed to each of our QVC Group and Ventures Group depend on their ability to attract new customers, retain existing customers and predict or respond to consumer preferences.    In an effort to attract and retain customers, these businesses engage in various merchandising and marketing initiatives, which involve the expenditure of money and resources. These initiatives, however, may not resonate with existing customers or consumers generally or may not be cost-effective. In addition, costs associated with the production and distribution of television programming (in the case of QVC and HSN) and costs associated with online marketing, including search engine marketing (primarily the purchase of relevant keywords) have increased and are likely to continue to increase in the foreseeable future and, if significant, could have a material adverse effect to the extent that they do not result in corresponding increases in net revenue. These companies also continuously develop new retail concepts and adjust their product mix in an effort to satisfy customer demands. Any sustained failure to identify and respond to emerging trends in lifestyle and consumer preferences could have a material adverse effect on the businesses of these subsidiaries and business affiliates. Consumer spending may be affected by many factors outside of their control, including competition from store-based retailers, mail-order and third-party Internet companies, consumer confidence and preferences, and general economic conditions.

 

The failure of our subsidiary QVC and our business affiliate HSN to maintain suitable placement for their respective programming could adversely affect their ability to attract and retain television viewers and could result in a decrease in revenue. QVC and HSN are dependent upon the continued ability of their programming to compete for viewers.  Effectively competing for television viewers is dependent, in substantial part, on their ability to negotiate and maintain placement of their programming at a favorable channel position, such as in a basic tier or within a general entertainment or general broadcasting tier. The advent of digital compression technologies and the adoption of digital cable have resulted in increased channel capacity, which together with other changing laws, rules and regulations regarding cable television ownership, impacts the ability of both QVC and HSN to negotiate and maintain suitable channel placement with their respective distributors. Increased channel capacity could adversely affect the ability to attract television viewers to QVC’s or HSN’s programming to the extent it results in a less favorable channel position for their respective programming, such as placement adjacent to programming that does not complement their respective programming, a position next to their respective televised home shopping competitors or isolation in a "shopping" tier, more competitors entering the marketplace, or more programming options being available to the viewing public in the form of new television networks and timeshifted viewing (e.g., personal video recorders, video-on-demand, interactive television and streaming video over Internet connections). In addition, if QVC’s or HSN’s programming is carried exclusively by a distributor on a digital programming tier, QVC or HSN may experience a reduction in revenue to the extent that the digital programming tier has less television viewer penetration than the basic or expanded basic programming tier. QVC and HSN may experience a further reduction in revenue due to increased television viewing audience fragmentation to the extent that not all television sets within a digital cable home are equipped to receive television programming in a digital format. The future success of each of QVC and HSN will depend, in part, on their ability to anticipate and adapt to technological changes and to offer elements of their respective programming via new technologies in a cost-effective manner that meets customer demands and evolving industry standards.

 

Any continued or permanent inability of QVC or HSN to transmit their programming via satellite would result in lost revenue and could result in lost customers. The success of our subsidiary QVC and our business affiliate HSN is dependent upon their continued ability to transmit their respective programming to television providers from their respective satellite uplink facilities, which transmissions are subject to FCC compliance in the U.S. and foreign regulatory

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requirements in QVC’s and HSN’s  international operations. In most cases, each of QVC and HSN has entered into long-term satellite transponder leases to provide for continued carriage of its programming on replacement transponders and/or replacement satellites, as applicable, in the event of a failure of either the transponders and/or satellites currently carrying its programming.  However, QVC does have transponder service agreements in the United Kingdom and Germany that will expire in 2015.  Although QVC believes that it takes reasonable and customary measures to ensure continued satellite transmission capability and believes that these international transponder service agreements can be renewed (or replaced, if necessary) in the ordinary course of business, termination or interruption of satellite transmissions may occur, particularly if QVC is not able to successfully negotiate renewals or replacements of any of its expiring transponder service agreements in the future.  Although QVC considers the transponder service agreements that are expiring in 2015 to be in the ordinary course, the failure to successfully renew or negotiate new transmission agreements that results in an inability to transmit its programming would result in lost revenue and could result in lost customers, which could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operation.

 

System interruption and the lack of integration and redundancy in the systems and infrastructures of our subsidiary QVC, our business affiliate HSN and our other online commerce businesses  may adversely affect their ability to, as applicable, operate their businesses, transmit their television programs, operate websites, process and fulfill transactions, respond to customer inquiries and generally maintain cost-efficient operations. The success of our subsidiaries and business affiliates depends, in part, on their ability to maintain the integrity of their transmissions, systems and infrastructures, including the transmission of television programs (in the case of QVC and HSN), as well as their websites, information and related systems, call centers and fulfillment facilities. These subsidiaries and business affiliates may experience occasional system interruptions that make some or all transmissions, systems or data unavailable or prevent them from transmitting their signals or efficiently providing services or fulfilling orders, as the case may be. QVC is in the process of implementing new technology systems and upgrading others. The failure to properly implement new systems or delays in implementing new systems could impair the ability of our subsidiaries and business affiliates to provide services and content, fulfill orders and/or process transactions. QVC and HSN also rely on affiliate and third-party computer systems, broadband, transmission and other communications systems and service providers in connection with the transmission of their respective signals, as well as to facilitate, process and fulfill transactions. Any interruptions, outages or delays in their signal transmissions, systems and infrastructures, or any deterioration in the performance of these transmissions, systems and infrastructures, could impair their ability to provide services, fulfill orders and/or process transactions. Fire, flood, power loss, telecommunications failure, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, acts of war or terrorism, acts of God and similar events or disruptions may damage or interrupt television transmissions, computer, broadband or other communications systems and infrastructures at any time. Any of these events could cause transmission or system interruption, delays and loss of critical data, and could prevent our subsidiaries and business affiliates from providing services, fulfilling orders and/or processing transactions. While our subsidiaries and business affiliates have backup systems for certain aspects of their operations, these systems are not fully redundant and disaster recovery planning is not sufficient for all possible risks. In addition, some of our subsidiaries and business affiliates may not have adequate insurance coverage to compensate for losses from a major interruption.

 

The processing, storage, use and disclosure of personal data by our home television and online commerce businesses could give rise to liabilities as a result of governmental regulation, conflicting legal requirements or differing views of personal privacy rights. In the processing of consumer transactions, home television and online commerce businesses receive, transmit and store a large volume of personally identifiable information and other user data. The sharing, use, disclosure and protection of this information is governed by the privacy and data security policies maintained by these businesses. Moreover, there are federal, state and international laws regarding privacy and the storing, sharing, use, disclosure and protection of personally identifiable information and user data. Specifically, personally identifiable

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information is increasingly subject to legislation and regulations in numerous jurisdictions around the world, the intent of which is to protect the privacy of personal information that is collected, processed and transmitted in or from the governing jurisdiction. The failure of these businesses and/or the failure by any of the various third party vendors and service providers with which they do business, to comply with applicable privacy policies or federal, state or similar international laws and regulations, or any compromise of security that results in the unauthorized release of personally identifiable information or other user data, could damage their reputation and the reputation of their third party vendors and service providers, discourage potential users from trying their products and services and/or result in fines and/or proceedings brought by governmental agencies and/or consumers, any one or all of which could adversely affect the business, financial condition and results of operations of these businesses and, as a result, our company.

 

Our home television and online commerce businesses are subject to security risks, including security breaches and identity theft. In order to succeed, our home television and online commerce businesses must be able to provide for secure transmission of confidential information over public networks. Any penetration of network security or other misappropriation or misuse of personal information could cause interruptions in the operations of their business and subject them to increased costs, litigation and other liabilities. Security breaches could also significantly damage their reputation with their customers and third parties with whom they do business. These businesses may be required to expend significant capital and other resources to protect against and remedy any potential or existing security breaches and their consequences. They also face risks associated with security breaches affecting third parties with which they are affiliated or otherwise conduct business online. The loss of confidence in our online commerce businesses resulting from any such security breaches or identity theft could adversely affect the business, financial condition and results of operations of our online commerce businesses and, as a result, our company.

 

Certain of our subsidiaries and business affiliates may fail to adequately protect their intellectual property rights or may be accused of infringing intellectual property rights of third parties . Our subsidiaries and business affiliates regard their respective intellectual property rights, including service marks, trademarks and domain names, copyrights (including their programming and their websites), trade secrets and similar intellectual property, as critical to their success. These businesses also rely heavily upon software codes, informational databases and other components that make up their products and services. From time to time, these businesses are subject to legal proceedings and claims in the ordinary course of business, including claims of alleged infringement of the trademarks, patents, copyrights and other intellectual property rights of third parties. In addition, litigation may be necessary to enforce the intellectual property rights of these businesses, protect trade secrets or to determine the validity and scope of proprietary rights claimed by others. Any litigation of this nature, regardless of outcome or merit, could result in substantial costs and diversion of management and technical resources, any of which could adversely affect the business, financial condition and results of operations of these businesses and in turn our financial condition and results of operations. The failure of these businesses to protect their intellectual property rights, particularly their proprietary brands, in a meaningful manner or third party challenges to related contractual rights could result in erosion of brand names and limit the ability of these businesses to control marketing on or through the internet using their various domain names, which could adversely affect the business, financial condition and results of operations of these businesses, as well as the financial condition and results of operations of our company.

 

Our home television and online commerce businesses rely on independent shipping companies to deliver the products they sell. Our home television and online commerce businesses rely on third party carriers to deliver merchandise from vendors and manufacturers to them and to ship merchandise to their customers. As a result, they are subject to carrier disruptions and delays due to factors that are beyond their control, including employee strikes, inclement weather and regulation and enforcement actions by customs agencies.  Any failure to deliver products to their customers in a timely and accurate manner may damage their reputation and brand and could cause them to lose customers. Enforcement actions

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by customs agencies can also cause the costs of imported goods to increase, negatively affecting profits.  These businesses are also impacted by increases in shipping rates charged by third party carriers, which over the past few years have increased significantly in comparison to historical levels, and it is currently expected that shipping and postal rates will continue to increase.  In the case of deliveries to customers, in each market where we operate, we have negotiated agreements with one or more independent, third party shipping companies, which in certain circumstances provide for favorable shipping rates.  If any of these relationships were to terminate or if a shipping company was unable to fulfill its obligations under its contract for any reason, these businesses would have to work with other shipping companies to deliver merchandise to customers, which would most likely be at less favorable rates.  Other potential adverse consequences of changing carriers include reduced visibility of order status and package tracking, delays in order processing and product delivery, and reduced shipment quality, which may result in damaged products and customer dissatisfaction. Any increase in shipping rates and related fuel and other surcharges   passed on to these business by their current carriers or any other shipping company would adversely impact profits, given that these businesses may not be able to pass these increased costs directly to customers or offset them by increasing prices without a detrimental effect on customer demand.

 

The seasonality of certain of our businesses places increased strain on their operations. The net revenue of our home television and online commerce businesses in recent years indicates that these businesses are seasonal due to a higher volume of sales in certain months or calendar quarters or related to particular holiday shopping. For example, in recent years, QVC has earned, on average, between 22% and 23% of its global revenue in each of the first three quarters of the year and 32% of its global revenue in the fourth quarter of the year. Similarly, our subsidiary Backcountry.com earns approximately 35% of its revenue in the fourth quarter, and our subsidiary Bodybuilding.com experiences a busier first quarter as people start to implement New Year’s resolutions toward health and fitness. If the vendors for these businesses are not able to provide popular products in sufficient amounts such that these businesses fail to meet customer demand, it could significantly affect their revenue and future growth. If too many customers access the websites of these businesses within a short period of time due to increased demand, our businesses may experience system interruptions that make their websites unavailable or prevent them from efficiently fulfilling orders, which may reduce the volume of goods they sell and the attractiveness of their products and services. In addition, they may be unable to adequately staff their fulfillment and customer service centers during these peak periods and delivery and other third party shipping (or carrier) companies may be unable to meet the seasonal demand. To the extent these businesses pay for holiday merchandise in advance of certain holidays (e.g., in the case of QVC, in August through November of each year), their available cash may decrease, resulting in less liquidity.

 

The failure of our subsidiary QVC to effectively manage its Easy-Pay and revolving credit card programs could result in less income. QVC offers Easy-Pay in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Italy (known as Q-Pay in Germany and Italy), a payment plan that, when offered by QVC, allows customers to pay for certain merchandise in two or more monthly installments. We cannot predict whether customers will pay all of their Easy-Pay installments. When the QVC Easy-Pay Plan is offered by QVC and elected by the customer, the first installment is typically billed to the customer’s credit card upon shipment. Generally, the customer’s credit card is subsequently billed up to five additional monthly installments until the total purchase price of the products has been billed by QVC. In addition, QVC-U.S. has an agreement with a large consumer financial institution (the “Bank”) pursuant to which the Bank provides revolving credit directly to QVC’s customers for the sole purpose of purchasing merchandise from QVC with a QVC branded credit card (“Q Card”). QVC receives a portion of the net economics of the credit card program according to percentages that vary with the performance of the portfolio. We cannot predict the extent to which QVC’s customers will use the Q Card, nor the extent that they will make payments on their outstanding balances.

 

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The success of our home television and online commerce businesses depends in large part on their ability to recruit and retain key personnel capable of executing their unique business models.   QVC and HSN, as well as our e-commerce subsidiaries have business models that require them to recruit and retain key employees, including management,  with the skills necessary for a unique business that demands knowledge of the general retail industry, television production, direct to consumer marketing and fulfillment and the Internet.  We cannot assure you that if QVC, HSN or our e-commerce subsidiaries experience turnover of these key employees they will be able to recruit and retain acceptable replacements because the market for such employees is very competitive and limited.

Certain of our subsidiaries and business affiliates have operations outside of the United States that are subject to numerous operational and financial risks. Certain of our subsidiaries and business affiliates have operations in countries other than the United States that are subject to the following risks inherent in international operations:

·

fluctuations in currency exchange rates;

·

longer payment cycles for sales in foreign countries that may increase the uncertainty associated with recoverable accounts;

·

recessionary conditions and economic instability, including fiscal policies that are implementing austerity measures in certain countries, which are affecting overseas markets;

·

limited ability to repatriate funds to the U.S. at favorable tax rates;

·

potentially adverse tax consequences;

·

export and import restrictions, tariffs and other trade barriers;

·

increases in taxes and governmental royalties and fees;

·

changes in foreign and U.S. laws, regulations and policies that govern operations of foreign-based companies;

·

changes to general consumer protection laws and regulations;

·

difficulties in staffing and managing international operations; and

·

threatened and actual terrorist attacks, political unrest in international markets and ongoing military action around the world that may result in disruptions of service that are critical to QVC’s international businesses.

 

Moreover, in many foreign countries, particularly in certain developing economies, it is not uncommon to encounter  business practices that are prohibited by certain regulations, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar laws. Although certain of our subsidiaries and business affiliates have undertaken compliance efforts with respect to these laws, their respective employees, contractors and agents, as well as those companies to which they outsource certain of their business operations, may take actions in violation of their policies and procedures. Any such violation, even if prohibited by the policies and procedures of these subsidiaries and business affiliates or the law, could have certain adverse effects on the financial condition of these subsidiaries and business affiliates. Any failure by these subsidiaries and business affiliates to effectively manage the challenges associated with the international operation of their businesses could materially adversely affect their, and hence our, financial condition.

 

Our online commerce businesses, including QVC, HSN and Expedia could be negatively affected by changes in search engine algorithms and dynamics or search engine disintermediation as well as their inability to monetize the resulting web traffic. The success of our online commerce businesses depends on a high degree of website traffic, which is dependent on many factors, including the availability of appealing website content, user loyalty and new user generation from search portals that charge a fee (such as Google).  In obtaining a significant amount of website traffic via search engines, they utilize techniques such as search engine optimization, or SEO (which is the practice of developing websites with relevant and current content that rank well in “organic,” or unpaid, search engine results) and search engine marketing, or SEM (which is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages through the use of paid placement, contextual advertising, and paid inclusion) to improve

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their placement in relevant search queries. Search engines, including Google, frequently update and change the logic that determines the placement and display of results of a user’s search, such that the purchased or algorithmic placement of links to the websites of our online commerce businesses can be negatively affected. Moreover, a search engine could, for competitive or other purposes, alter its search algorithms or results causing their websites to place lower in search query results. If a major search engine changes its algorithms in a manner that negatively affects their paid or unpaid search ranking, or if competitive dynamics impact the effectiveness of SEO or SEM in a negative manner, the business and financial performance of our online commerce businesses would be adversely affected, potentially to a material extent. Furthermore, the failure of our online commerce businesses to successfully manage their SEO and SEM strategies could result in a substantial decrease in traffic to their websites, as well as increased costs if they were to replace free traffic with paid traffic.  Even if our online commerce businesses are successful in generating a high level of website traffic, no assurance can be given that our online commerce businesses will be successful in achieving repeat user loyalty or that new visitors will explore the offerings on their sites. Monetizing this traffic by converting users to consumers is dependent on many factors, including availability of inventory, consumer preferences, price, ease of use and website quality.  No assurance can be given that the fees paid to search portals may exceed the revenue generated by their visitors.  Any failure to sustain user traffic or to monetize such traffic could materially adversely affect the financial performance of our online commerce businesses and, as a result, adversely affect our financial results.

 

Our online commerce businesses, including QVC, HSN and Expedia, may experience difficulty in achieving the successful development, implementation and customer acceptance of, and a viable advertising market via, applications for smartphone and tablet computing devices, which could harm their business. Although our online commerce businesses have developed services and applications to address user and consumer interaction with website content on smartphone and other non-traditional desktop or laptop computer systems (which typically have smaller screens and less convenient typing capabilities), the efficacy of the smartphone application and its advertising market is still developing. Moreover, if smartphone computing services prove to be less effective for the users of our online commerce businesses or less economically attractive for advertisers and the smartphone segment of Internet traffic grows at the expense of traditional computer and tablet Internet access, our online commerce businesses may experience difficulty attracting and retaining traffic and, in turn, advertisers, on these platforms. Additionally, as new devices and new platforms are continually being released, it is difficult to predict the challenges that may be encountered in developing versions of our online commerce businesses’ offerings for use on these alternative devices, and our online commerce businesses may need to devote significant resources to the creation, support, and maintenance of their services on such devices. To the extent that revenue generated from advertising placed on smartphone computing devices becomes increasingly more important to their businesses and they fail to adequately evolve and address this market, their business and financial performance could be negatively impacted. In addition, growth in the use of smartphone products as a substitute for use on personal computers and tablets may adversely impact revenue derived from advertising, as many of the processes used for smartphone advertising and related monetization strategies are still in development.

 

Our subsidiary QVC has significant indebtedness, which could limit its flexibility to respond to current market conditions, restrict its business activities and adversely affect its financial condition.   As of December 31, 2014, QVC had total debt of approximately $4.6 billion outstanding and an additional $1.5 billion available for borrowing under its senior secured credit facility as of that date. QVC may incur significant additional indebtedness in the future. The indebtedness of QVC, combined with other financial obligations and contractual commitments, could among other things:

·

increase QVC’s vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions;

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require a substantial portion of QVC’s cash flow from operations to be dedicated to the payment of principal and interest on its indebtedness;

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·

limit QVC’s ability to use cash flow or obtain additional financing for future working capital, capital expenditures or other general corporate purposes, which reduces the funds available to it for operations and any future business opportunities ;

·

limit flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in its business and the markets in which it operates;

·

competitively disadvantage QVC compared with competitors that have less debt;

·

limit QVC’s ability to borrow additional funds or to borrow funds at rates or on other terms that they find acceptable; and

·

expose QVC to the risk of increased interest rates because certain of QVC’s borrowings, including borrowings under its credit facility, are at variable interest rates.

 

In addition, it is possible that QVC may need to incur additional indebtedness in the future in the ordinary course of business. If new debt is added to its current debt levels, the risks described above could intensify. If QVC experiences adverse effects on its financial condition as a result of its indebtedness, our financial performance could be adversely affected as well.

 

We do not have the right to manage our business affiliates attributed to either our QVC Group or our Ventures Group, which means we are not able to cause those affiliates to act in a manner that we deem desirable.  We do not have the right to manage the businesses or affairs of any of our business affiliates (generally those companies in which we have less than a majority voting stake or with respect to which we have provided a proxy over our voting power to a third party) including Expedia, which is attributed to our Ventures Group, and HSN, which is attributed to our QVC Group. Rather, our rights may take the form of representation on the board of directors or a partners' or similar committee that supervises management or possession of veto rights over significant or extraordinary actions. The scope of our veto rights varies from agreement to agreement. Although our board representation and veto rights may enable us to exercise influence over the management or policies of a business affiliate, enable us to prevent the sale of material assets by a business affiliate in which we own less than a majority voting interest or prevent us from paying dividends or making distributions to our stockholders or partners, they will not enable us to cause these actions to be taken as these companies are business affiliates in which we own a partial interest.

We have overlapping directors and management with LMC, TripAdvisor Holdings and Liberty Broadband, which may lead to conflicting interests . As a result of the LMC Split-Off, the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off and LMC's spin-off of Liberty Broadband in November 2014, most of the executive officers of Liberty also serve as executive officers of LMC, TripAdvisor Holdings and Liberty Broadband, and there are overlapping directors. None of the foregoing companies has any ownership interest in any of the others. Our executive officers and the members of our company’s board of directors have fiduciary duties to our stockholders. Likewise, any such persons who serve in similar capacities at LMC, TripAdvisor Holdings or Liberty Broadband have fiduciary duties to that company’s stockholders. Therefore, such persons may have conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest with respect to matters involving or affecting more than one of the companies to which they owe fiduciary duties. For example, there may be the potential for a conflict of interest when our company, LMC, TripAdvisor Holdings or Liberty Broadband looks at acquisitions and other corporate opportunities that may be suitable for each of them. Moreover, most of our company's directors and officers own LMC, TripAdvisor Holdings and Liberty Broadband stock and equity awards. These ownership interests could create, or appear to create, potential conflicts of interest when the applicable individuals are faced with decisions that could have different implications for our company, LMC, TripAdvisor Holdings and/or Liberty Broadband. Any potential conflict that qualifies as a "related party transaction" (as defined in Item 404 of Regulation S-K under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended) is subject to review by an independent committee of the applicable issuer's board of directors in accordance with its corporate governance guidelines. Each of Liberty Broadband and TripAdvisor Holdings has renounced its rights to certain

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business opportunities and each company’s restated certificate of incorporation contains provisions deeming directors and officers not in breach of their fiduciary duties in certain cases for directing a corporate opportunity to another person or entity (including LMC, TripAdvisor Holdings and Liberty Broadband) instead of such company. Any other potential conflicts that arise will be addressed on a case-by-case basis, keeping in mind the applicable fiduciary duties owed by the executive officers and directors of each issuer. From time to time, we may enter into transactions with LMC, TripAdvisor Holdings or Liberty Broadband and/or their subsidiaries or other affiliates. There can be no assurance that the terms of any such transactions will be as favorable to our company, LMC, TripAdvisor Holdings, Liberty Broadband or any of their respective subsidiaries or affiliates as would be the case where there is no overlapping officer or director.

The liquidity and value of our public investments may be affected by market conditions beyond our control that could cause us to record losses for declines in their market value.  Included among our assets are equity interests in publicly-traded companies that are not consolidated subsidiaries. The value of these interests may be affected by economic and market conditions that are beyond our control. In addition, our ability to liquidate or otherwise monetize these interests without adversely affecting their value may be limited.

A substantial portion of our consolidated debt attributed to each group is held above the operating subsidiary level, and we could be unable in the future to obtain cash in amounts sufficient to service that debt and our other financial obligations.  As of December 31, 2014, our wholly-owned subsidiary Liberty Interactive LLC (“Liberty LLC”) had $3,272 million principal amount of publicly-traded debt outstanding. Liberty LLC is a holding company for all of our subsidiaries and investments. Our ability to meet the financial obligations of Liberty LLC and our other financial obligations will depend on our ability to access cash. Our sources of cash include our available cash balances, net cash from operating activities, dividends and interest from our investments, availability under credit facilities at the operating subsidiary level, monetization of our public investment portfolio and proceeds from asset sales. There are no assurances that we will maintain the amounts of cash, cash equivalents or marketable securities that we maintained over the past few years. The ability of our operating subsidiaries, including QVC, to pay dividends or to make other payments or advances to us or Liberty LLC depends on their individual operating results, any statutory, regulatory or contractual restrictions to which they may be or may become subject and the terms of their own indebtedness, including QVC’s credit facility and bond indentures. The agreements governing such indebtedness restrict sales of assets and prohibit or limit the payment of dividends or the making of distributions, loans or advances to stockholders and partners. Neither we nor Liberty LLC will generally receive cash, in the form of dividends, loans, advances or otherwise, from our business affiliates. See “-We do not have the right to manage our business affiliates attributed to either our QVC Group or our Ventures Group, which means we are not able to cause those affiliates to act in a manner that we deem desirable” above.

We have disposed of certain of the reference shares underlying the exchangeable debentures of Liberty LLC attributed to our Ventures Group, which exposes us to liquidity risk.  Liberty LLC currently has outstanding multiple tranches of exchangeable debentures in the aggregate principal amount of $2,481 million as of December 31, 2014. Under the terms of these exchangeable debentures, which are attributed to our Ventures Group (other than the 1% Exchangeable Senior Debentures due 2043, which are attributed to the QVC Group), the holders may elect to require Liberty LLC to exchange the debentures for the value of a specified number of the underlying reference shares, which Liberty LLC may honor through delivery of reference shares, cash or a combination thereof. Also, Liberty LLC is required to distribute to the holders of its exchangeable debentures any cash, securities (other than publicly traded securities, which would themselves become reference shares) or other payments made by the issuer of the reference shares in respect of those shares. The principal amount of the debentures will be reduced by the amount of any such required distributions other than regular cash dividends. As Liberty LLC has disposed of some of the reference shares underlying certain of these exchangeable debentures, any exercise of the exchange right by, or required distribution of cash, securities or other payments to, holders of such debentures will require that Liberty LLC fund the required payments from its own resources,

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which will depend on the availability of cash or other sources of liquidity to Liberty LLC at that time. Additionally, in the event all reference shares underlying a series of exchangeable debentures are liquidated or otherwise cease to be outstanding without replacement, there is a possibility that the treatment of tax matters associated with that series could change. This may include acceleration of tax liabilities that are recorded as deferred tax liabilities in our financial statements, in amounts that would be significant.

Risks Relating to the Ownership of Our Common Stock due to our Tracking Stock Capitalization

Holders of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock are common stockholders of our company and are, therefore, subject to risks associated with an investment in our company as a whole, even if a holder does not own shares of common stock of both of our groups.  Even though we have attributed, for financial reporting purposes, all of our consolidated assets, liabilities, revenue, expenses and cash flows to either the QVC Group or the Ventures Group in order to prepare the separate financial statement schedules for each of those groups, we retain legal title to all of our assets and our capitalization does not limit our legal responsibility, or that of our subsidiaries, for the liabilities included in any set of financial statement schedules. Holders of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock do not have any legal rights related to specific assets attributed to the QVC Group or the Ventures Group and, in any liquidation, holders of QVC Group tracking stock and holders of Ventures Group tracking stock will be entitled to receive a pro rata share of our available net assets based on their respective numbers of liquidation units.

Our board of directors' ability to reattribute businesses, assets and expenses between tracking stock groups may make it difficult to assess the future prospects of either tracking stock group based on its past performance.  Our board of directors is vested with discretion to reattribute businesses, assets and liabilities that are attributed to one tracking stock group to the other tracking stock group, without the approval of any of our stockholders. For example, in October 2014, our board of directors approved the change in attribution from the QVC Group to the Ventures Group of certain Liberty online commerce subsidiaries and approximately $1 billion in cash, without stockholder approval. Any reattribution made by our board, as well as the existence of the right in and of itself to effect a reattribution, may impact the ability of investors to assess the future prospects of either tracking stock group, including its liquidity and capital resource needs, based on its past performance. Stockholders may also have difficulty evaluating the liquidity and capital resources of each group based on past performance, as our board of directors may use one group's liquidity to fund the other group's liquidity and capital expenditure requirements through the use of inter-group loans and inter-group interests.

 

We could be required to use assets attributed to one group to pay liabilities attributed to the other group.  The assets attributed to one group are potentially subject to the liabilities attributed to the other group, even if those liabilities arise from lawsuits, contracts or indebtedness that are attributed to such other group. While our current management and allocation policies provide that reattributions of assets between groups will result in the creation of an inter-group loan or an inter-group interest or an offsetting reattribution of cash or other assets, no provision of our restated charter prevents us from satisfying liabilities of one group with assets of the other group, and our creditors are not in any way limited by our tracking stock capitalization from proceeding against any assets they could have proceeded against if we did not have a tracking stock capitalization.

 

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The market price of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock may not reflect the performance of the QVC Group and the Ventures Group, respectively, as we intend.  We cannot assure you that the market price of the common stock of a group, in fact, will reflect the performance of the group of businesses, assets and liabilities attributed to that group. Holders of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock are common stockholders of our company as a whole and, as such, will be subject to all risks associated with an investment in our company and all of our businesses, assets and liabilities. As a result, the market price of each series of stock of a group may simply reflect the performance of our company as a whole or may more independently reflect the performance of some or all of the group of assets attributed to such group. In addition, investors may discount the value of the stock of a group because it is part of a common enterprise rather than a stand-alone entity.

The market price of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock may be volatile, could fluctuate substantially and could be affected by factors that do not affect traditional common stock.  The market prices of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock may be materially affected by, among other things:

·

actual or anticipated fluctuations in a group's operating results or in the operating results of particular companies attributable to such group;

·

potential acquisition activity by our company, our subsidiaries or our business affiliates;

·

issuances of debt or equity securities to raise capital by our company, our subsidiaries or our business affiliates and the manner in which that debt or the proceeds of an equity issuance are attributed to each of the groups;

·

changes in financial estimates by securities analysts regarding QVC Group tracking stock or Ventures Group tracking stock or the companies attributable to either of our tracking stock groups;

·

the complex nature and the potential difficulties investors may have in understanding the terms of both of our tracking stocks, as well as concerns regarding the possible effect of certain of those terms on an investment in our stock; and

·

general market conditions.

 

The market value of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock could be adversely affected by events involving the assets and businesses attributed to either of the groups.  Because we are the issuer of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock, an adverse market reaction to events relating to the assets and businesses attributed to either of our groups, such as earnings announcements or announcements of new products or services, acquisitions or dispositions that the market does not view favorably, may cause an adverse reaction to the common stock of our other group. This could occur even if the triggering event is not material to us as a whole. A certain triggering event may also have a greater impact on one group than the same triggering event would have on the other group due to the asset composition of the affected group. In addition, the incurrence of significant indebtedness by us or any of our subsidiaries on behalf of one group, including indebtedness incurred or assumed in connection with acquisitions of or investments in businesses, could affect our credit rating and that of our subsidiaries and, therefore, could increase the borrowing costs of businesses attributable to our other group or the borrowing costs of our company as a whole.

We may not pay dividends equally or at all on QVC Group tracking stock or Ventures Group tracking stock.  We do not presently intend to pay cash dividends on QVC Group tracking stock or Ventures Group tracking stock for the foreseeable future. However, we will have the right to pay dividends on the shares of common stock of each group in equal or unequal amounts, and we may pay dividends on the shares of common stock of one group and not pay dividends on

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shares of common stock of the other group. In addition, any dividends or distributions on, or repurchases of, shares relating to either group will reduce our assets legally available to be paid as dividends on the shares relating to the other group.

Our tracking stock capital structure could create conflicts of interest, and our board of directors may make decisions that could adversely affect only some holders of our common stock.  Our tracking stock capital structure could give rise to occasions when the interests of holders of stock of one group might diverge or appear to diverge from the interests of holders of stock of the other group. In addition, given the nature of their businesses, there may be inherent conflicts of interests between the QVC Group and the Ventures Group. Our tracking stock groups are not separate entities and thus holders of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock do not have the right to elect separate boards of directors. As a result, our company's officers and directors owe fiduciary duties to our company as a whole and all of our stockholders as opposed to only holders of a particular group. Decisions deemed to be in the best interest of our company and all of our stockholders may not be in the best interest of a particular group when considered independently. Examples include:

·

decisions as to the terms of any business relationships that may be created between the QVC Group and the Ventures Group or the terms of any reattributions of assets or liabilities between the groups;

·

decisions as to the allocation of consideration among the holders of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock, or among the series of stocks relating to either of our groups, to be received in connection with a merger involving our company;

·

decisions as to the allocation of corporate opportunities between the groups, especially where the opportunities might meet the strategic business objectives of both groups;

·

decisions as to operational and financial matters that could be considered detrimental to one group but beneficial to the other;

·

decisions as to the conversion of shares of common stock of one group into shares of common stock of the other;

·

decisions regarding the creation of, and, if created, the subsequent increase or decrease of any inter-group interest that one group may own in the other group;

·

decisions as to the internal or external financing attributable to businesses or assets attributed to either of our groups;

·

decisions as to the dispositions of assets of either of our groups; and

·

decisions as to the payment of dividends on the stock relating to either of our groups.

 

Our directors' or officers' ownership of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock may create or appear to create conflicts of interest.  If directors or officers own disproportionate interests (in percentage or value terms) in QVC Group tracking stock or Ventures Group tracking stock, that disparity could create or appear to create conflicts of interest when they are faced with decisions that could have different implications for the holders of QVC Group tracking stock or Ventures Group tracking stock.

 

Other than pursuant to our management and allocation policies, we have not adopted any specific procedures for consideration of matters involving a divergence of interests among holders of shares of stock relating to our two groups, or among holders of different series of stock relating to a specific group.  Rather than develop additional specific procedures in advance, our board of directors intends to exercise its judgment from time to time, depending on the circumstances, as to how best to:

·

obtain information regarding the divergence (or potential divergence) of interests;

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·

determine under what circumstances to seek the assistance of outside advisers;

·

determine whether a committee of our board of directors should be appointed to address a specific matter and the appropriate members of that committee; and

·

assess what is in our best interests and the best interests of all of our stockholders.

 

Our board of directors believes the advantage of retaining flexibility in determining how to fulfill its responsibilities in any such circumstances as they may arise outweighs any perceived advantages of adopting additional specific procedures in advance.

Our board of directors may change the management and allocation policies to the detriment of either group without stockholder approval.  Our board of directors has adopted certain management and allocation policies to serve as guidelines in making decisions regarding the relationships between the QVC Group and the Ventures Group with respect to matters such as tax liabilities and benefits, inter-group loans, inter-group interests, attribution of assets, financing alternatives, corporate opportunities and similar items. These policies also set forth the initial focuses and strategies of these groups and the initial attribution of our businesses, assets and liabilities between them. These policies are not included in the restated charter. Our board of directors may at any time change or make exceptions to these policies. Because these policies relate to matters concerning the day-to-day management of our company as opposed to significant corporate actions, such as a merger involving our company or a sale of substantially all of our assets, no stockholder approval is required with respect to their adoption or amendment. A decision to change, or make exceptions to, these policies or adopt additional policies could disadvantage one group while advantaging the other.

Holders of shares of stock relating to a particular group may not have any remedies if any action by our directors or officers has an adverse effect on only that stock, or on a particular series of that stock.  Principles of Delaware law and the provisions of our restated charter may protect decisions of our board of directors that have a disparate impact upon holders of shares of stock relating to a particular group, or upon holders of any series of stock relating to a particular group. Under Delaware law, the board of directors has a duty to act with due care and in the best interests of all of our stockholders, regardless of the stock, or series, they hold. Principles of Delaware law established in cases involving differing treatment of multiple classes or series of stock provide that a board of directors owes an equal duty to all stockholders and does not have separate or additional duties to any subset of stockholders. Judicial opinions in Delaware involving tracking stocks have established that decisions by directors or officers involving differing treatment of holders of tracking stocks may be judged under the “business judgment rule.” In some circumstances, our directors or officers may be required to make a decision that is viewed as adverse to the holders of shares relating to a particular group or to the holders of a particular series of that stock. Under the principles of Delaware law and the business judgment rule referred to above, you may not be able to successfully challenge decisions that you believe have a disparate impact upon the stockholders of one of our groups if a majority of our board of directors is disinterested and independent with respect to the action taken, is adequately informed with respect to the action taken and acts in good faith and in the honest belief that the board is acting in the best interest of Liberty and all of our stockholders.

Stockholders will not vote on how to attribute consideration received in connection with a merger involving our company among holders of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock.  Our restated charter does not contain any provisions governing how consideration received in connection with a merger or consolidation involving our company is to be attributed to the holders of QVC Group tracking stock and holders of Ventures Group tracking stock or to the holders of different series of stock, and none of the holders of QVC Group tracking stock or Ventures Group tracking stock will have a separate class vote in the event of such a merger or consolidation. Consistent with applicable principles of Delaware law, our board of directors will seek to divide the type and amount of consideration received in a merger or consolidation involving our company among holders of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking

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stock in a fair manner. As the different ways the board of directors may divide the consideration between holders of stock relating to the different groups, and among holders of different series of a particular stock, might have materially different results, the consideration to be received by holders of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock in any such merger or consolidation may be materially less valuable than the consideration they would have received if they had a separate class vote on such merger or consolidation.

We may dispose of assets of the QVC Group or the Ventures Group without your approval.  Delaware law requires stockholder approval only for a sale or other disposition of all or substantially all of the assets of our company taken as a whole, and our restated charter does not require a separate class vote in the case of a sale of a significant amount of assets of any of our groups. As long as the assets attributed to the QVC Group or the Ventures Group proposed to be disposed of represent less than substantially all of our assets, we may approve sales and other dispositions of any amount of the assets of such group without any stockholder approval.

If we dispose of all or substantially all of the assets attributed to any group (which means, for this purpose, assets representing 80% of the fair market value of the total assets of the disposing group, as determined by our board of directors), we would be required, if the disposition is not an exempt disposition under the terms of our restated charter, to choose one or more of the following three alternatives:

·

declare and pay a dividend on the disposing group's common stock;

·

redeem shares of the disposing group's common stock in exchange for cash, securities or other property; and/or

·

convert all or a portion of the disposing group's outstanding common stock into common stock of the other group.

 

In this type of a transaction, holders of the disposing group's common stock may receive less value than the value that a third-party buyer might pay for all or substantially all of the assets of the disposing group.

Our board of directors will decide, in its sole discretion, how to proceed and is not required to select the option that would result in the highest value to holders of any group of our common stock.

Holders of QVC Group tracking stock or Ventures Group tracking stock may receive less consideration upon a sale of the assets attributed to that group than if that group were a separate company.  If the QVC Group or the Ventures Group were a separate, independent company and its shares were acquired by another person, certain costs of that sale, including corporate level taxes, might not be payable in connection with that acquisition. As a result, stockholders of a separate, independent company with the same assets might receive a greater amount of proceeds than the holders of QVC Group tracking stock or Ventures Group tracking stock would receive upon a sale of all or substantially all of the assets of the group to which their shares relate. In addition, we cannot assure you that in the event of such a sale the per share consideration to be paid to holders of QVC Group tracking stock or Ventures Group tracking stock, as the case may be, will be equal to or more than the per share value of that share of stock prior to or after the announcement of a sale of all or substantially all of the assets of the applicable group. Further, there is no requirement that the consideration paid be tax-free to the holders of the shares of common stock of that group. Accordingly, if we sell all or substantially all of the assets attributed to the QVC Group or the Ventures Group, our stockholders could suffer a loss in the value of their investment in our company.

In the event of a liquidation of Liberty, holders of Ventures Group tracking stock and QVC Group tracking stock will not have a priority with respect to the assets attributed to the related tracking stock group remaining for distribution to stockholders.  Under the restated charter, upon Liberty's liquidation, dissolution or winding up, holders of the Ventures

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Group tracking stock and the QVC Group tracking stock will be entitled to receive, in respect of their shares of such stock, their proportionate interest in all of Liberty's assets, if any, remaining for distribution to holders of common stock in proportion to their respective number of "liquidation units" per share. Relative liquidation units were determined based on the volume weighted average prices of the Ventures Group tracking stock and the QVC Group tracking stock over the 20 trading day period which commenced shortly after the initial filing of the restated charter. Hence, the assets to be distributed to a holder of either tracking stock upon a liquidation, dissolution or winding up of Liberty will have nothing to do with the value of the assets attributed to the related tracking stock group or to changes in the relative value of the QVC Group tracking stock and the Ventures Group tracking stock over time.

Our board of directors may in its sole discretion elect to convert the common stock relating to one group into common stock relating to the other group, thereby changing the nature of your investment and possibly diluting your economic interest in our company, which could result in a loss in value to you.  Our restated charter permits our board of directors, in its sole discretion, to convert all of the outstanding shares of common stock relating to either of our groups into shares of common stock of the other group on specified terms.  A conversion would preclude the holders of stock in each group involved in such conversion from retaining their investment in a security that is intended to reflect separately the performance of the relevant group. We cannot predict the impact on the market value of our stock of (1) our board of directors' ability to effect any such conversion or (2) the exercise of this conversion right by our company. In addition, our board of directors may effect such a conversion at a time when the market value of our stock could cause the stockholders of one group to be disadvantaged.

Holders of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock will vote together and will have limited separate voting rights.  Holders of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock will vote together as a single class, except in certain limited circumstances prescribed by our restated charter and under Delaware law. Each share of Series B common stock of each group has ten votes per share, and each share of Series A common stock of each group has one vote per share. Holders of Series C common stock of each group have no voting rights, other than those required under Delaware law. When holders of QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock vote together as a single class, holders having a majority of the votes will be in a position to control the outcome of the vote even if the matter involves a conflict of interest among our stockholders or has a greater impact on one group than the other.

Transactions in our common stock by our insiders could depress the market price of our common stock.  Sales of or hedging transactions such as collars relating to our shares by our Chairman of the Board or any of our other directors or executive officers could cause a perception in the marketplace that our stock price has peaked or that adverse events or trends have occurred or may be occurring at our company. This perception can result notwithstanding any personal financial motivation for these insider transactions. As a result, insider transactions could depress the market price for shares of one or more series of our tracking stocks.

Our capital structure, as well as the fact that the QVC Group and the Ventures Group are not independent companies, may inhibit or prevent acquisition bids for the QVC Group or the Ventures Group and may make it difficult for a third party to acquire us, even if doing so may be beneficial to our stockholders.  If the QVC Group and the Ventures Group were separate independent companies, any person interested in acquiring the QVC Group or the Ventures Group without negotiating with management could seek control of that group by obtaining control of its outstanding voting stock, by means of a tender offer, or by means of a proxy contest. Although we intend QVC Group tracking stock and Ventures Group tracking stock to reflect the separate economic performance of the QVC Group and the Ventures Group, respectively, those groups are not separate entities and a person interested in acquiring only one group without negotiation with our management could obtain control of that group only by obtaining control of a majority in voting power of all of the outstanding shares of common stock of our company. The existence of shares of common stock, and different series of

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shares, relating to different groups could present complexities and in certain circumstances pose obstacles, financial and otherwise, to an acquiring person that are not present in companies that do not have capital structures similar to ours.

Certain provisions of our restated charter and bylaws may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company that a stockholder may consider favorable. These provisions include:

·

authorizing a capital structure with multiple series of common stock, a Series B common stock of each group that entitles the holders to ten votes per share, a Series A common stock of each group that entitles the holder to one vote per share, and a Series C common stock of each group that except as otherwise required by applicable law, entitles the holder to no voting rights;

·

classifying our board of directors with staggered three-year terms, which may lengthen the time required to gain control of our board of directors;

·

limiting who may call special meetings of stockholders;

·

prohibiting stockholder action by written consent, thereby requiring all stockholder actions to be taken at a meeting of the stockholders;

·

establishing advance notice requirements for nominations of candidates for election to the board of directors or for proposing matters that can be acted upon by stockholders at stockholder meetings;

·

requiring stockholder approval by holders of at least 66 2/3% of our aggregate voting power or the approval by at least 75% of our board of directors with respect to certain extraordinary matters, such as a merger or consolidation of our company, a sale of all or substantially all of our assets or an amendment to our restated charter; and

·

the existence of authorized and unissued stock, including "blank check" preferred stock, which could be issued by our board of directors to persons friendly to our then current management, thereby protecting the continuity of our management, or which could be used to dilute the stock ownership of persons seeking to obtain control of our company.

 

Our chairman, John C. Malone, beneficially owns shares representing the power to direct approximately 37% of the aggregate voting power in our company, due to his beneficial ownership of approximately 94% and 94% of the outstanding shares of each of our Series B Liberty Interactive common stock and Series B Liberty Ventures common stock, respectively, as of January 31, 2015.

Item 1B.  Unresolved Staff Comment s

 

None.

 

Item 2.  Properties .

 

We lease our corporate headquarters in Englewood, Colorado  under a facilities agreement with LMC.  All of our other real or personal property is owned or leased by our subsidiaries and business affiliates.

 

QVC owns its corporate headquarters and operations center in West Chester, Pennsylvania, which consists of office space and includes executive offices, television studios, showrooms, broadcast facilities and administrative offices for QVC. QVC also owns call centers in San Antonio, Texas; Port St. Lucie, Florida; Chesapeake, Virginia; Bochum and Kassel, Germany; and Chiba-Shi, Japan. QVC owns distribution centers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and West Chester, Pennsylvania; Suffolk, Virginia; Rocky Mount, North Carolina; Florence, South Carolina; Sakura-shi, Chiba, Japan; and Hücklehoven, Germany. Additionally, we own multi-functional buildings in Knowsley, United Kingdom and Brugherio,

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Italy. To supplement the facilities QVC owns, it also leases various facilities worldwide. In 2013, QVC-Japan transitioned to its new headquarters in Japan that includes television studios, broadcast facilities, administrative offices and a call center. QVC-Germany owns its headquarters in Germany that includes television studios, broadcast facilities and administrative offices. In 2012, QVC-U.K. transitioned to its new leased headquarters in the U.K. that includes television studios, broadcast facilities and administrative offices. In 2014, QVC-Italy took ownership of its previously leased headquarters in Italy that includes television studios, broadcast facilities, administrative offices and a call center.

 

Our other subsidiaries and business affiliates own or lease the fixed assets necessary for the operation of their respective businesses, including office space, transponder space, headends, cable television and telecommunications distribution equipment and telecommunications switches.

 

Item 3. Legal Proceeding s

None.

Item 4.  Mine Safety Disclosure s

 

Not applicable.

 

 

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PART I I

Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities .

 

Market Information

 

Our Series A and Series B Liberty Interactive common stock (LINTA and LINTB) had been outstanding since May 2006.  On August 9, 2012 Liberty completed the approved recapitalization of its common stock through the creation of the Liberty Interactive common stock (which continued to trade as LINTA and LINTB) and Liberty Ventures common stock (LVNTA and LVNTB) as tracking stocks.  In order to bring Liberty into compliance with a Nasdaq listing requirement regarding the minimum number of publicly held shares of the Series B Liberty Ventures common stock, on April 11, 2014, a two for one stock split of Series A and Series B Liberty Ventures common stock was effected by means of a dividend that was paid on April 11, 2014 of one share of Series A or Series B Liberty Ventures common stock to holders of each share of Series A or Series B Liberty Ventures common stock, respectively, held by them as of 5:00 pm, New York City time, on April 4, 2014. Accordingly, the high and low sales prices of LVNTA and LVNTB common stock have been retroactively restated in the table below. On October 3, 2014, Liberty reattributed from the Interactive Group to the Ventures Group approximately $1 billion in cash and its Digital Commerce companies. Subsequent to the reattribution, the Interactive Group is now referred to as the QVC Group. In connection with the reattribution, the Liberty Interactive tracking stock trading symbol “LINTA” was changed to "QVCA" and the "LINTB" trading symbol to "QVCB," effective October 7, 2014.  Each series of our common stock trades on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.  The following table sets forth the range of high and low sales prices of shares of our common stock for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QVC Group

 

 

 

Series A (QVCA)

 

Series B (QVCB)

 

 

 

High

 

Low

 

High

 

Low

 

2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First quarter (1)

 

$

22.11 

 

19.93 

 

21.55 

 

19.51 

    

Second quarter (1)

 

$

24.31 

 

19.79 

 

23.01 

 

19.77 

 

Third quarter (1)

 

$

25.25 

 

21.95 

 

25.13 

 

21.94 

 

Fourth quarter (1)

 

$

29.57 

 

22.83 

 

29.39 

 

23.23 

 

2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First quarter (1)

 

$

30.12 

 

25.58 

 

30.00 

 

25.01 

 

Second quarter (1)

 

$

30.68 

 

27.76 

 

31.10 

 

27.70 

 

Third quarter (1)

 

$

30.23 

 

26.95 

 

30.17 

 

27.04 

 

Fourth quarter (1)

 

$

30.60 

 

22.37 

 

31.40 

 

23.73 

 

 

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Liberty Ventures

 

 

 

Series A (LVNTA)

 

Series B (LVNTB)

 

 

 

High

 

Low

 

High

 

Low

 

2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

First quarter

 

$

39.75 

 

33.64 

 

38.43 

 

34.09 

 

Second quarter

 

$

43.02 

 

36.36 

 

42.35 

 

37.23 

 

Third quarter

 

$

48.04 

 

40.69 

 

48.14 

 

42.25 

 

Fourth quarter

 

$

62.20 

 

40.91 

 

60.65 

 

44.64 

 

2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First quarter

 

$

74.21 

 

55.63 

 

74.66 

 

60.65 

 

Second quarter (April 1 - April 11)

 

$

68.66 

 

56.06 

 

71.93 

 

58.02 

 

Second quarter (April 12 - June 30) (2)

 

$

73.96 

 

54.67 

 

67.03 

 

56.24 

 

Third quarter (July 1 - August 27) (3)

 

$

75.95 

 

68.45 

 

80.02 

 

71.72 

 

Third quarter (August 28 - September 30) (3)

 

$

39.95 

 

36.40 

 

42.66 

 

39.50 

 

Fourth quarter

 

$

38.32 

 

25.12 

 

39.80 

 

29.12 

 

(1)

Previously reflected under the LINTA or LINTB ticker symbol, respectively, for the respective period through October 6, 2014.

(2)

As discussed above and in the accompanying consolidated financial statements in Part II of this report, Liberty completed a two for one stock split on April 11, 2014 on its Series A and Series B Liberty Ventures common stock.

(3)

As discussed in Part I of this report, the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off was effected on August 27, 2014 as a pro-rata dividend of shares of TripAdvisor Holdings to the stockholders of Liberty’s Series A and Series B Liberty Ventures common stock.

 

Holders

 

As of January 31, 2015, there were approximately 2,200 and 100 record holders of our Series A and Series B Liberty Interactive common stock, respectively, and approximately 1,800 and 100 record holders of our Series A and Series B Liberty Ventures common stock, respectively.  The foregoing numbers of record holders do not include the number of stockholders whose shares are held nominally by banks, brokerage houses or other institutions, but include each such institution as one shareholder.

 

Dividends

 

We have not paid any cash dividends on our common stock, and we have no present intention of so doing.  Payment of cash dividends, if any, in the future will be determined by our board of directors in light of our earnings, financial condition and other relevant considerations.

 

Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans

 

Information required by this item is incorporated by reference to our definitive proxy statement for our 2015 Annual Meeting of stockholders.

 

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Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer

Share Repurchase Programs

On several occasions our board of directors has authorized a share repurchase program for our Series A and Series B Liberty Interactive common stock. On each of May 5, 2006, November 3, 2006 and October 30, 2007 our board authorized the repurchase of $1 billion of Series A and Series B Liberty Interactive common stock for a total of $3 billion. These previous authorizations remained effective following the LMC Split-Off, notwithstanding the fact that the Liberty Interactive common stock ceased to be a tracking stock during the period following the LMC Split-Off and prior to the creation of our Liberty Ventures common stock in August 2012.  On February 22, 2012 the board authorized the repurchase of an additional $700 million of Series A and Series B Liberty Interactive common.  Additionally, on each of October 30, 2012 and February 27, 2014, the board authorized the repurchase of an additional $1 billion of Series A and Series B Liberty Interactive common stock.  In connection with the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off during August 2014, the board authorized $350 million for the repurchase of either the Liberty Interactive or Liberty Ventures tracking stocks. In October 2014, the board authorized the repurchase of an additional $650 million of Series A and Series B Liberty Ventures common stock.

 

A summary of the repurchase activity for the three months ended December 31, 2014 is as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Series A Liberty Interactive Common Stock (QVCA)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(d) Maximum Number

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(or Approximate Dollar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(c) Total Number of

 

Value) of Shares that

 

 

 

(a) Total Number

 

(b) Average

 

Shares Purchased as Part

 

May Yet Be purchased

 

 

 

of Shares

 

Price Paid per

 

of Publicly Announced

 

Under the Plans or

 

Period

    

Purchased

    

Share

    

Plans or Programs

    

Programs

 

October 1 - 31, 2014

    

 —

    

$

 —

    

 —

    

$

1.4 billion

 

November 1 - 30, 2014

 

 —

 

$

 —

 

 —

 

$

1.4 billion

 

December 1 - 31, 2014

 

1,731,226 

 

$

28.52 

 

1,731,226 

 

$

1.4 billion

 

Total

 

1,731,226 

 

 

 

 

1,731,226 

 

 

 

 

 

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Item 6. Selected Financial Data .

 

The following tables present selected historical information relating to our financial condition and results of operations for the past five years.  The following data should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

    

2014

    

2013

    

2012

    

2011

    

2010

 

 

 

amounts in millions

 

Summary Balance Sheet Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

$

2,306 

 

902 

 

2,291 

 

846 

 

1,351 

 

Investments in available-for-sale securities and other cost investments

 

$

1,224 

 

1,313 

 

1,720 

 

1,168 

 

1,110 

 

Investment in affiliates

 

$

1,633 

 

1,237 

 

851 

 

951 

 

949 

 

Intangibles not subject to amortization

 

$

7,893 

 

8,383 

 

8,424 

 

8,450 

 

8,450 

 

Assets of discontinued operations (1) (2)

 

$

 —

 

7,095 

 

7,428 

 

349 

 

89 

 

Total assets (2)

 

$

18,641 

 

24,676 

 

26,255 

 

17,339 

 

26,600 

 

Long-term debt

 

$

7,105 

 

6,106 

 

5,905 

 

4,848 

 

5,970 

 

Deferred income tax liabilities, noncurrent

 

$

1,849 

 

2,001 

 

2,023 

 

2,046 

 

2,706 

 

Liabilities of discontinued operations (1) (2)

 

$

 —

 

1,452 

 

1,748 

 

19 

 

3,877 

 

Equity (2)

 

$

5,780 

 

11,435 

 

12,051 

 

6,627 

 

11,442 

 

Noncontrolling interest (1)

 

$

107 

 

4,499 

 

4,489 

 

134 

 

129 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years ended December 31,

 

 

    

2014

    

2013

    

2012

    

2011

    

2010

 

 

 

amounts in millions,

 

 

 

except per share amounts

 

Summary Statement of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue

 

$

10,499 

 

10,219 

 

9,888 

 

9,461 

 

8,775 

 

Operating income (loss)

 

$

1,188 

 

1,136 

 

1,163 

 

1,133 

 

1,096 

 

Interest expense

 

$

(387)

 

(380)

 

(466)

 

(426)

 

(626)

 

Share of earnings (losses) of affiliates

 

$

39 

 

33 

 

47 

 

139 

 

112 

 

Realized and unrealized gains (losses) on financial instruments, net

 

$

(57)

 

(22)

 

(351)

 

84 

 

62 

 

Gains (losses) on transactions, net

 

$

74 

 

(1)

 

443 

 

 

355 

 

Earnings (loss) from continuing operations (3):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liberty Capital common stock

 

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

10 

 

28 

 

Liberty Interactive Corporation common stock

 

 

NA

 

NA

 

33 

 

576 

 

796 

 

Liberty Interactive common stock

 

$

575 

 

500 

 

291 

 

NA

 

NA

 

Liberty Ventures common stock

 

 

 

54 

 

281 

 

NA

 

NA

 

 

 

$

578 

 

554 

 

605 

 

586 

 

824 

 

Basic earnings (loss) from continuing operations attributable to Liberty Interactive Corporation stockholders per common share (4):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Series A and Series B Liberty Capital common stock

 

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

0.12 

 

0.31 

 

Series A and Series B Liberty Interactive Corporation common stock

 

 

NA

 

NA

 

 —

 

0.88 

 

1.26 

 

Series A and Series B Liberty Interactive common stock

 

$

1.10 

 

0.88 

 

0.48 

 

NA

 

NA

 

Series A and Series B Liberty Ventures common stock

 

$

0.03 

 

0.74 

 

4.26 

 

NA

 

NA

 

Diluted earnings (loss) from continuing operations attributable to Liberty Interactive Corporation stockholders per common share (4):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Series A and Series B Liberty Capital common stock

 

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

0.12 

 

0.30 

 

Series A and Series B Liberty Interactive Corporation common stock

 

 

NA

 

NA

 

 —

 

0.87 

 

1.24 

 

Series A and Series B Liberty Interactive common stock

 

$

1.09 

 

0.86 

 

0.47 

 

NA

 

NA

 

Series A and Series B Liberty Ventures common stock

 

$

0.03 

 

0.73 

 

4.19 

 

NA

 

NA

 

 

(1) On December 11, 2012, we acquired approximately 4.8 million additional shares of common stock of TripAdvisor, Inc. ("TripAdvisor") (an additional 4% equity ownership interest), for $300 million, along with the right to control the vote of the shares of TripAdvisor's common stock and class B common stock we own.  Following the transaction we owned approximately 22% of the equity and 57% of the total votes of all classes of TripAdvisor common stock.  On

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August 27, 2014, we completed the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off. TripAdvisor Holdings is comprised of Liberty’s former interest in TripAdvisor as well as BuySeasons, Inc., Liberty’s former wholly-owned subsidiary, and corporate level debt. Following the completion of the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off, Liberty and TripAdvisor Holdings operate as separate, publicly traded companies, and neither has any stock ownership, beneficial or otherwise, in the other. The consolidated financial statements of Liberty have been prepared to reflect TripAdvisor Holdings as discontinued operations. However, noncontrolling interest attributable to our former ownership interest in TripAdvisor is included in the noncontrolling interest line item in the consolidated balance sheet from the date of acquisition until the date of completion of the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off. See note 5 of the accompanying consolidated financial statements for further details on the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off.

 

(2) On September 23, 2011, Liberty completed the LMC Split-Off.  At the time of the LMC Split-Off, LMC owned all the assets, businesses and liabilities previously attributed to the Capital and Starz tracking stock groups.  The LMC Split-Off was effected by means of a redemption of all of the Liberty Capital common stock and Liberty Starz common stock of Liberty in exchange for the common stock of LMC.

 

(3) Includes earnings (losses) from continuing operations attributable to the noncontrolling interests of $40 million, $45 million, $63 million, $53 million and $45 million for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively.

 

(4) Basic and diluted earnings per share have been calculated for Liberty Capital and Liberty Starz common stock for the period subsequent to March 3, 2008 through September 23, 2011.  Basic and diluted EPS have been calculated for Liberty Interactive Corporation common stock for the periods from May 9, 2006 to August 9, 2012.  Basic and diluted EPS have been calculated for Liberty  Interactive common stock and Liberty Ventures common stock subsequent to August 9, 2012.

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Item 7.  Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation s

The following discussion and analysis provides information concerning our results of operations and financial condition. This discussion should be read in conjunction with our accompanying consolidated financial statements and the notes thereto.

Overview

We own controlling and non-controlling interests in a broad range of video and on-line commerce companies. Our largest business, which is also our principal reportable segment, is QVC, Inc. (“QVC”). QVC markets and sells a wide variety of consumer products in the United States and several foreign countries, primarily by means of its televised shopping programs and via the Internet through its domestic and international websites and mobile applications. Additionally, we own entire or majority interests in consolidated subsidiaries which operate on-line commerce businesses in a broad range of retail categories. These include Backcountry.com, Inc. ("Backcountry"), Bodybuilding.com, LLC ("Bodybuilding"), CommerceHub, Provide Commerce, Inc. ("Provide") (see discussion below), Evite, Inc. (“Evite”) and LMC Right Start, Inc. (“Right Start”) (collectively, the “Digital Commerce” businesses). Backcountry operates websites offering sports gear and clothing for outdoor and active individuals in a variety of categories. Bodybuilding manages websites related to sports nutrition, body building and fitness. CommerceHub provides a Software-as-a-Service platform for online retailers and their suppliers (manufacturers, and distributors) to sell products to consumers without physically owning inventory, or managing the fulfillment of those products. Provide operates an e-commerce marketplace of websites for perishable goods, including flowers, fruits and desserts, as well as upscale personalized gifts. On December 31, 2014, FTD Companies, Inc. ("FTD") acquired Provide from Liberty in return for approximately 10.2 million shares of FTD common stock representing approximately 35% of the combined company and approximately $145 million in cash (the “FTD Transaction”). Subsequent to the FTD Transaction, Liberty accounts for FTD as an equity-method affiliate based on the ownership level and board representation. Evite is an online invitation and social event planning service on the Web. Right Start is a retailer of products for infants through toddlers such as quality strollers, car seats, nursery and feeding accessories, plus care and other products.

Our "Corporate and Other" category includes our corporate ownership interests in unconsolidated businesses and corporate expenses. We hold ownership interests in Expedia, Inc., HSN, Inc., Interval Leisure Group, Inc. and LendingTree, which we account for as equity method investments; and we continue to maintain investments and related financial instruments in public companies such as Time Warner Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc., which are accounted for at their respective fair market values and are included in "Corporate and Other."

On August 9, 2012, Liberty completed the approved recapitalization of its common stock through the creation of the Liberty Interactive common stock and Liberty Ventures common stock as tracking stocks.  In the recapitalization, each holder of Liberty Interactive Corporation common stock remained a holder of the same amount and series of Liberty Interactive common stock and received 0.05 of a share of the corresponding series of Liberty Ventures common stock, by means of a dividend, with cash issued in lieu of fractional shares of Liberty Ventures common stock.

 

On October 3, 2014, Liberty reattributed from the QVC Group to the Ventures Group its Digital Commerce companies, which were valued at $1.5 billion, and approximately $1 billion in cash. In connection with the reattribution, each holder of Liberty Interactive common stock received 0.14217 of a share of the corresponding series of Liberty Ventures common stock for each share of Liberty Interactive common stock held as of the record date, with cash paid in lieu of fractional shares. The distribution date for the dividend was on October 20, 2014, and the Liberty Interactive common stock began trading ex-dividend on October 15, 2014 which resulted in an aggregate of 67.7 million shares of Series A and Series B Liberty Ventures common stock being issued.

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The term "Ventures Group" does not represent a separate legal entity, rather it represents those businesses, assets and liabilities that have been attributed to that group.  Following the reattribution, the Ventures Group is comprised primarily of our interests in Expedia, Inc., Interval Leisure Group, Inc., LendingTree, our Digital Commerce companies,  investments in Time Warner Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc., as well as cash in the amount of approximately $1,884 million (at December 31, 2014), including subsidiary cash. The Ventures Group also has attributed to it certain liabilities related to our Exchangeable Debentures and certain deferred tax liabilities. The Ventures Group is primarily focused on the maximization of the value of these investments and investing in new business opportunities. 

The term "QVC Group" does not represent a separate legal entity, rather it represents those businesses, assets and liabilities that have been attributed to that group. The QVC Group is primarily focused on our video operating businesses. Following the reattribution, the QVC Group has attributed to it the remainder of our businesses and assets, including our wholly-owned subsidiary QVC and our 38% interest in HSN, Inc. as well as cash in the amount of approximately $422 million (at December 31, 2014), including subsidiary cash.

Discontinued Operations

On August 27, 2014, Liberty completed the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off. TripAdvisor Holdings is comprised of Liberty’s former 22% economic and 57% voting interest in TripAdvisor as well as BuySeasons, Liberty’s former wholly-owned subsidiary, and a corporate level net debt balance of $350 million. In connection with the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off during August 2014, TripAdvisor Holdings drew down $400 million in margin loans and distributed approximately $350 million to Liberty. This transaction has been recorded at historical cost due to the pro rata nature of the distribution. Following the completion of the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off, Liberty and TripAdvisor Holdings operate as separate, publicly traded companies, and neither has any stock ownership, beneficial or otherwise, in the other. The consolidated financial statements of Liberty have been prepared to reflect TripAdvisor Holdings as discontinued operations. Accordingly, the assets and liabilities, revenue, costs and expenses, and cash flows of the businesses, assets and liabilities owned by TripAdvisor Holdings at the time of the TripAdvisor Holdings Spin-Off have been excluded from the respective captions in the accompanying consolidated balance sheets, statements of operations, comprehensive earnings and cash flows in such consolidated financial statements.

Strategies and Challenges

QVC. QVC's goal is to become the preeminent global multimedia shopping community for people who love to shop, and to offer a shopping experience that is as much about entertainment and enrichment as it is about buying. QVC's objective is to provide an integrated shopping experience that utilizes all forms of media including television, the internet and mobile devices. In 2015, QVC intends to employ several strategies to achieve these goals and objectives. Among these strategies are to (i) extend the breadth, relevance and exposure of the QVC brand; (ii) source products that represent unique quality and value; (iii) create engaging presentation content in televised programming, mobile and online; (iv) leverage customer loyalty and continue multi-platform expansion; and (v) create a compelling and differentiated customer experience. In addition, QVC expects to expand globally by leveraging its existing systems, infrastructure and skills in other countries around the world.

Internationally, beyond the main QVC channels, QVC-Germany and QVC-U.K also broadcast pre-recorded shows on additional channels that offer viewers access to a broader range of QVC programming options. These channels include QVC Beauty & Style and QVC Plus in Germany and QVC Beauty, QVC Extra and QVC Style in the U.K.

QVC's future net revenue growth will primarily depend on international expansion, sales growth from e-commerce and mobile platforms, additions of new customers from households already receiving QVC's television programming and increased spending from existing customers. QVC's future net revenue may also be affected by (i) the willingness of cable

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Table of Contents

television and direct-to-home satellite system operators to continue carrying QVC's programming service; (ii) QVC's ability to maintain favorable channel positioning, which may become more difficult due to governmental action or from distributors converting analog customers to digital; (iii) changes in television viewing habits because of personal video recorders, video-on-demand and internet video services; and (iv) general economic conditions.

The prolonged economic uncertainty in various regions of the world in which our subsidiaries and affiliates operate could adversely affect demand for QVC’s products and services since a substantial portion of QVC’s revenue is derived from discretionary spending by individuals, which typically falls during times of economic instability. Global financial markets continue to experience disruptions, including increased volatility and diminished liquidity and credit availability. If economic and financial market conditions in the U.S. or other key markets, including Europe and Japan, remain uncertain, persist, or deteriorate further, QVC’s customers may respond by suspending, delaying, or reducing their discretionary spending. A suspension, delay or reduction in discretionary spending could adversely affect revenue. Accordingly, QVC’s ability to increase or maintain revenue and earnings could be adversely affected to the extent that relevant economic environments remain weak or decline. Such weak economic conditions may also inhibit QVC’s expansion into new European and other markets. QVC is currently unable to predict the extent of any of these potential adverse effects.

 

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Table of Contents

Results of Operations—Consolidated

General.     We provide in the tables below information regarding our Consolidated Operating Results and Other Income and Expense, as well as information regarding the contribution to those items from our principal reportable segment and the Digital Commerce businesses (included in the QVC Group results through the date of reattribution and in the Ventures Group thereafter). The "corporate and other" category consists of those assets or businesses which we do not disclose separately. For a more detailed discussion and analysis of the financial results of the principal reporting segment, see "Results of Operations - Businesses" below.

Operating Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years ended December 31,

 

 

   

2014

   

2013

   

2012

 

 

 

amounts in millions

 

Revenue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QVC Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QVC

 

$

8,801 

 

8,623 

 

8,516 

 

Digital Commerce

 

 

1,227 

 

1,596 

 

1,372 

 

Corporate and other

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

Total QVC Group

 

 

10,028 

 

10,219 

 

9,888 

 

Ventures Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Commerce

 

 

471 

 

NA

 

NA

 

Corporate and other

 

 

 —

 

 

 

Total Ventures Group

 

 

471 

 

 —

 

 —

 

Consolidated Liberty

 

$

10,499 

 

10,219 

 

9,888 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjusted OIBDA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QVC Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QVC

 

$

1,910 

 

1,841 

 

1,828 

 

Digital Commerce

 

 

53 

 

103 

 

102 

 

Corporate and other

 

 

(24)

 

(20)

 

(27)

 

Total QVC Group

 

 

1,939 

 

1,924 

 

1,903 

 

Ventures Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Commerce

 

 

44 

 

NA

 

NA

 

Corporate and other

 

 

(18)

 

(11)

 

(5)

 

Total Ventures Group

 

 

26 

 

(11)

 

(5)

 

Consolidated Liberty

 

$

1,965 

 

1,913 

 

1,898 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating Income (Loss)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QVC Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QVC

 

$

1,279 

 

1,245 

 

1,268 

 

Digital Commerce

 

 

(16)

 

(26)

 

(30)

 

Corporate and other

 

 

(57)

 

(64)

 

(63)

 

Total QVC Group

 

 

1,206 

 

1,155 

 

1,175 

 

Ventures Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Commerce

 

 

 

 —

 

 —

 

Corporate and other

 

 

(26)

 

(19)

 

(12)

 

Total Ventures Group

 

 

(18)

 

(19)

 

(12)

 

Consolidated Liberty

 

$

1,188 

 

1,136 

 

1,163 

 

 

Revenue.     Our consolidated revenue increased 2.7% and 3.3% for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively, as compared to the corresponding prior year periods. The current year and prior year increases were the result

II- 9


 

of increased revenue at QVC ($178 million and $107 million, respectively) and the Digital Commerce companies ($102 million and $224 million, respectively). See "Results of Operations - Businesses" below for a more complete discussion of the results of operations of certain of our subsidiaries.

Adjusted OIBDA.     We define Adjusted OIBDA as revenue less cost of sales, operating expenses and selling, general and administrative ("SG&A") expenses (excluding stock compensation). Our chief operating decision maker and management team use this measure of performance in conjunction with other measures to evaluate our businesses and make decisions about allocating resources among our businesses. We believe this is an important indicator of the operational strength and performance of our businesses, including each business's ability to service debt and fund capital expenditures. In addition, this measure allows us to view operating results, perform analytical comparisons and benchmarking between businesses and identify strategies to improve performance. This measure of performance excludes such costs as depreciation and amortization, stock-based compensation and restructuring and impairment charges that are included in the measurement of operating income pursuant to GAAP.  Accordingly, Adjusted OIBDA should be considered in addition to, but not as a substitute for, operating income, net income, cash flow provided by operating activities and other measures of financial performance prepared in accordance with GAAP. See note 18 to the accompanying consolidated financial statements for a reconciliation of Adjusted OIBDA to earnings (loss) from continuing operations before income taxes.

Consolidated Adjusted OIBDA increased $52 million and $15 million for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively, as compared to the corresponding prior year periods.  See "Results of Operations - Businesses"  below for a more complete discussion of the results of operations of certain of our subsidiaries.

Stock-based compensation.     Stock-based compensation includes compensation related to (1) options and stock appreciation rights ("SARs") for shares of our common stock that are granted to certain of our officers and employees, (2) phantom stock appreciation rights ("PSARs") granted to officers and employees of certain of our subsidiaries pursuant to private equity plans and (3) amortization of restricted stock grants.

We recorded $108 million, $118 million and $91 million of stock compensation expense for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively. The decrease of $10 million in stock-based compensation during 2014 was primarily attributable to slightly fewer options being granted in recent years which resulted in less stock-based compensation expense being recognized. The increase of $27 million in stock-based compensation during 2013 was primarily attributable to the additional recognition of stock-based compensation related to the one-time exchange offer in 2012 ("2012 Option Exchange"), as more fully described in note 14, in the accompanying consolidated financial statements.  As of December 31, 2014, the total unrecognized compensation cost related to unvested Liberty equity awards was approximately $80 million. Such amount will be recognized in our consolidated statements of operations over a weighted average period of approximately 2.0 years. 

Operating income.     Our consolidated operating income increased $52 million and decreased $27 million for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively, as compared to the corresponding prior year periods.  See "Results of Operations - Businesses"  below for a more complete discussion of the results of operations of certain of our subsidiaries.

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Other Income and Expense

 

Components of Other Income (Expense) are presented in the table below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years ended December 31,

 

 

    

2014

    

2013

    

2012

 

 

 

amounts in millions

 

Interest expense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QVC Group

 

$

(312)

 

(290)

 

(322)

 

Ventures Group

 

 

(75)

 

(90)

 

(144)

 

Consolidated Liberty

 

$

(387)

 

(380)

 

(466)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share of earnings (losses) of affiliates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QVC Group

 

$

51 

 

48 

 

28 

 

Ventures Group

 

 

(12)

 

(15)

 

19 

 

Consolidated Liberty

 

$

39 

 

33 

 

47 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Realized and unrealized gains (losses) on financial instruments, net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QVC Group

 

$

(22)

 

(12)

 

51 

 

Ventures Group

 

 

(35)

 

(10)

 

(402)

 

Consolidated Liberty

 

$

(57)

 

(22)

 

(351)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gains (losses) on transactions, net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QVC Group

 

$

 —

 

(1)

 

 

Ventures Group

 

 

74 

 

 —

 

443 

 

Consolidated Liberty

 

$

74 

 

(1)

 

443 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other, net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QVC Group

 

$

(43)

 

(54)

 

 

Ventures Group

 

 

22 

 

25 

 

47 

 

Consolidated Liberty

 

$

(21)

 

(29)

 

47 

 

 

Interest expense.     Interest expense increased $7 million and decreased $86 million for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively, as compared to the corresponding prior year periods. The increase in interest expense for the year ended December 31, 2014 was due to increased utilization of the QVC credit facility during the current year. The decrease in interest expense for the year ended December 31, 2013 was the result of a slight decrease in the average debt balance outstanding during that year and the refinancing of prior outstanding obligations for debt with more favorable interest rates.   The refinancing of debt required a premium payment on the outstanding debentures which was recognized as a $57 million dollar extinguishment loss and was reflected in the other, net line item in the consolidated statement of operations for the year ended December 31, 2013. 

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Share of earnings (losses) of affiliates.     The following table presents our share of earnings (losses) of affiliates:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years ended December 31,

 

 

    

2014

    

2013

    

2012

 

 

 

amounts in millions

 

QVC Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HSN, Inc.

 

$

60 

 

61 

 

40 

 

Other

 

 

(9)

 

(13)

 

(12)

 

Total QVC Group

 

 

51 

 

48 

 

28 

 

Ventures Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expedia, Inc.

 

 

58 

 

31 

 

67 

 

Other

 

 

(70)

 

(46)

 

(48)

 

Total Ventures Group

 

 

(12)

 

(15)

 

19 

 

Consolidated Liberty

 

$

39 

 

33 

 

47 

 

 

 

The share of earnings (losses) of affiliates for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013 were relatively flat based on the operating results of the equity affiliates.  The decrease in share of earnings between December 31, 2013 and 2012 was the decrease in operating results of Expedia.  The change in the other category for the Ventures Group is primarily related to alternative energy investments that generally operate at a loss but provide favorable tax attributes recorded through the income tax (expense) benefit line item in the consolidated statement of operations.

Realized and unrealized gains (losses) on financial instruments.     Realized and unrealized gains (losses) on financial instruments are comprised of changes in the fair value of the following:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years ended December 31,

 

 

    

2014

    

2013

    

2012

 

 

 

amounts in millions

 

Fair value option securities

 

$

173 

 

514 

 

470 

 

Exchangeable senior debentures

 

 

(230)

 

(553)

 

(602)

 

Other derivatives

 

 

 —

 

17 

 

(219)

 

 

 

$

(57)

 

(22)

 

(351)

 

 

The changes in these accounts are due primarily to market factors and changes in the fair value of the underlying stocks or financial instruments to which these relate.  The significant change in other derivatives was the forward  sale contract entered into on 12 million Expedia common shares that was entered into and settled during the year ended December 31, 2012.

Gains (losses) on transactions, net.     The gain on transactions during the year ended December 31, 2014 is due to the FTD Transaction. The gain on transactions during the year ended December 31, 2012 is due to a gain on the sale of Expedia shares during the year. 

Income taxes.     Our effective tax rate for the years ended December, 31 2014, 2013 and 2012 was 30.9%, 24.8% and 31.5%, respectively.  The effective tax rate is less than the U.S. federal tax rate of 35% during all years presented primarily due to tax credits derived from our alternative energy investments. The effective tax rate during 2013 was further impacted by a change in the corporate effective state rate for outstanding deferred tax liabilities and assets at Liberty due to a change in the apportionment of income to various states

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Net earnings.     We had net earnings of $626 million, $580 million and $1,591 million for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively. The change in net earnings was the result of the above-described fluctuations in our revenue, expenses and other gains and losses. 

 

Liquidity and Capital Resources

As of December 31, 2014 substantially all of our cash and cash equivalents are invested in U.S. Treasury securities, other government securities or government guaranteed funds, AAA rated money market funds and other highly rated financial and corporate debt instruments. 

The following are potential sources of liquidity: available cash balances, cash generated by the operating activities of our wholly-owned subsidiaries (to the extent such cash exceeds the working capital needs of the subsidiaries and is not otherwise restricted), net proceeds from asset sales, monetization of our public investment portfolio, outstanding debt facilities, debt and equity issuances, and dividend and interest receipts.

During the year, there were no changes to our corporate debt credit ratings or our consolidated subsidiaries' debt credit ratings.  Liberty and QVC are in compliance with their debt covenants as of December 31, 2014.

 

As of December 31, 2014, Liberty's liquidity position consisted of the following:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash

 

Marketable

 

Available-for-

 

 

 

equivalents

 

securities

 

sale securities

 

 

 

amounts in millions

 

QVC

    

$

347 

    

    

 —