Revenues rise 5% at News Corp

Fri, Feb 8, 2013, 00:00

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp reported higher quarterly revenue and profit on strong growth at its cable assets. including its Regional Sports and FX networks.

But the rosy quarterly figures – revenue and profit beat expectations – masked troubles at three of its properties, most notably Fox.

The “fourth network”, as Fox is sometimes called, has seen ratings weaken, with more softness at American Idol and X-Factor. “It’s no secret [Fox] had a tough fall,” said News Corp president and chief operating officer Chase Carey on a call with analysts, pinning the blame on both programming and a sports line-up that fell short of expectations.

Mr Carey cited the fact that the San Francisco Giants’ World Series sweep of the Detroit Tigers deprived Fox of three high-profile nights of live event programming.

News Corp’s other trouble spots were overseas, with Sky Italia subscribers falling because of that tough economy and declines at its Australian newspapers – the early seeds of the News Corp empire.

Mr Carey said Sky Italia’s performance so far this year was tracking $100 million below expectations. He said News Corp planned to take $200 million out of the unit’s cost base over the next two to three years.

Shares of News Corp, whose global assets include the Wall Street Journal and 20th Century Fox, fell 3 per cent in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

The media conglomerate said revenue rose 5 per cent to $9.43 billion for the quarter that ended in December, ahead of analyst expectations.

News Corp is preparing to separate its faster-growing entertainment assets from its newspapers, a move that has been greeted with enthusiasm from investors who have driven up the stock almost 50 per cent year-over-year.

Net income was $2.38 billion or $1.01 per share, compared with $1.06 billion or 42 US cents per share in the same period a year ago. – (Reuters)