Discovery Communications Inc reported a 46 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit on the back of strong distribution revenue and advertising sales in its international TV business.

The parent of the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and the Science Channel on Wednesday reported net income rose to $155 million, or 36 cents a share, matching analyst expectations. A year earlier, it reported a profit of $106 million, or 25 cents a share.

Revenue increased 7 percent to $964 million, surpassing the $943 million analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected.

Discovery has weathered the advertising downturn better than many rivals because of its strong national cable channels, while it is also less reliant on some of the hardest hit advertising categories, such as autos and financial services.

While other media companies have posted declines in quarterly advertising revenue, Discovery said advertising sales at its U.S. networks rose 2 percent. In addition to advertising, Discovery's revenue is underpinned by the fees it collects from cable companies that carry its channels. Those sales increased 4 percent.

But the big star of the quarter was its international business, where it was helped by the weak U.S. dollar. But even excluding the impact of foreign currency fluctuations, revenue increased 16 percent, with particular growth in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

The results come after a year in which Discovery emerged as one of the hottest media companies with investors. Its shares have doubled in the past year, while it has struck high-profile joint venture deals with Oprah Winfrey and Hasbro Inc .

The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), in particular, has created buzz for Discovery. The company holds a 50 percent stake in the network, which could draw in substantial audiences since Winfrey will be leaving broadcast TV in September 2011, when she ends her popular daytime show.

And last month, Discovery joined ranks with Sony Corp <6758.T> and IMAX Corp to launch a dedicated 3-D network in the United States beginning in 2011. The network will feature natural history, space, exploration, and adventure shows along with films and children's programing from all three partners.

As for its financial performance, Discovery said on Wednesday that all of its main measures should increase in 2010, pointing to an improving ad climate and strong ratings for its networks, which specialize in adventure, travel and cooking shows like MythBusters and Shark Week.

It said revenue should range between $3.63 billion and $3.75 billion. That stacks up against the $3.72 billion analysts forecast, and would be up about 3 percent to 7 percent from 2009.

It said adjusted OIBDA, or adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization, would range between $1.56 billion and $1.64 billion. That would be up between 7 percent and 12 percent from 2009.

And net income should range from $660 million to $725 million. That, too, would be up from 2009 by roughly 20 percent to 30 percent.

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Derek Caney)