John Hendricks

John Hendricks (Robert Severi / Discovery )

Discovery Communications Inc. Executive Chairman John S. Hendricks has exercised stock options worth $12.7 million, according to a regulatory filing.

The 61-year-old company founder sold 144,179 shares of Discovery common stock on Oct. 31 for prices ranging from $85.75 a share to $88.92 a share, according to a filing late Monday with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Hendricks had accumulated the options several years ago as part of his long-term compensation program. He benefited from the company's soaring value, although the timing of the stock sale was part of a predetermined schedule. 

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Discovery stock has increased 60% during the last year; it closed Monday at $87.07 a share.

Hendricks created the Discovery Channel nearly 30 years ago to be the first U.S. cable network designed to provide high-quality documentary programming that explored the world.  Discovery Communications is one of television's top brands, boasting such channels as Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet.

Last week, the Silver Springs, Md., company reported a 24% jump in third-quarter net income. For the period that ended Sept. 30, the company earned $255 million, or 71 cents a share, up from $205 million, or 55 cents, a year earlier.

Discovery generated $1.38 billion in revenue for the quarter -- just missing Wall Street's expectations.

The stock sale did not fully deplete Hendricks' holdings in the company. The founder still has more than 1 million shares of Discovery stock, the filing said.

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