News Corp 1Q earnings beat Street; revenue close

AP News
Posted: Nov 06, 2012 6:02 PM
News Corp 1Q earnings beat Street; revenue close

LOS ANGELES (AP) — News Corp. said Tuesday that net income for the latest quarter tripled from a year ago, reflecting a one-time gain from the sale of its stake in digital video technology company NDS. Revenue rose 2 percent thanks to growth at pay TV networks such as Fox News Channel.

Fiscal first-quarter net income came to $2.23 billion, or 94 cents per share, compared with $738 million, or 28 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding about $1.38 billion in special gains, largely due to the NDS sale, adjusted earnings came to 43 cents per share, beating the 37 cents expected by analysts polled by FactSet. News Corp. had a 49 percent stake in NDS, which was acquired by Cisco Systems Inc. in July.

Revenue of $8.14 billion was roughly in line with the $8.15 billion analysts were looking for.

Shares rose 52 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $24.80 in after-hours trading following the release of results. In the regular session, shares closed up 36 cents, or 1.5 percent, at $24.28.

The company, which is controlled by CEO Rupert Murdoch, said that charges related to the phone hacking scandal in Britain came to $67 million, up from $17 million a year earlier. For the fiscal year through this past June, the company had already spent $224 million handling a U.K. probe into allegations against its newspapers.

At its U.S. pay TV networks, advertising revenue rose 8 percent, led by Fox News and its regional sports networks. Fees from distributors such as cable TV companies rose 16 percent domestically. The segment was again the company's most profitable, generating operating profit of $953 million on $2.45 billion in revenue.

The company said it expects full-year adjusted operating income in the year through next June to grow in the "high single- to low double-digit" percentages from the $5.6 billion made in the most recent fiscal year. The forecast excludes the $224 million spent on the U.K. probe in fiscal 2012.

The company is in the midst of a plan to split into two companies, one housing its newspapers, Australian operations and for-profit education business, and the other its more profitable TV and movie businesses.

Despite the split, analysts remain concerned that company founder Murdoch would use company cash — which grew to $12 billion in the quarter from $9.6 billion at the end of June — to spend on expensive acquisitions.

Last week, Murdoch used Twitter to criticize the announced merger between Pearson PLC's Penguin Books and Bertelsmann SE's Random House as a "faux merger disaster." That sparked speculation that he would make a bold bid to buy Penguin and merge it with News Corp.'s HarperCollins.

Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said he was not about to "comment on Rupert's tweets."

"I'm not going to get too deep into the rumors on what we're buying or what we're looking at," he said.