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News Corp. Profit Surges on Home Video Sales

November 06, 2003|From Associated Press

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., parent company of the Fox News Channel and the 20th Century Fox movie studio, reported Wednesday that its earnings nearly tripled in its fiscal first quarter largely because of higher global sales of video entertainment.

News Corp. earned 32 cents a share, or $422 million, in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with 12 cents, or $162 million, a year earlier.

Excluding a one-time gain of $36 million, largely because of the sale of shares in a Japanese pay-television venture, earnings were $386 million, or 29 cents a share, well ahead of the 20 cents that analysts polled by Thomson First Call had expected.

The results were announced just after the close of regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange. News Corp.'s U.S.-listed shares rose 38 cents to $36.48 on the NYSE. In after-hours trading, they were up $1.27.

Revenue for the quarter jumped 22% to $4.65 billion.

The largest gains in the conglomerate's holdings came from its Hollywood studios, where operating income soared to $328 million from $100 million a year earlier.

The company attributed the gains to higher receipts from global sales of film and TV programs for home entertainment as well as higher profit from TV syndication. "Daredevil" and "Phone Booth" were among the big earners in Fox's global home video business.

News Corp. reported a 5% decline in its broadcast television business as ratings fell at the Fox network compared with a year earlier, when "American Idol" was a big winner.

Prime-time ratings were down 20%, and the company had costs associated with canceling several series.

The company posted a quarterly loss of $117 million from its Italian satellite TV holdings. It bought the Telepiu business in April from Vivendi Universal.

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