21st Century Fox Stock Flat After Mixed Earnings

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Rupert Murdoch

After earnings were released, the Murdoch brothers issued an internal memo to employees that is steeped in commitments to "diversity" and "social impact."

21st Century Fox on Wednesday said it earned an adjusted 36 cents per share on $6.75 billion in revenue while Wall Street expected the conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his sons to earn 35 cents a share on $6.77 billion in revenue.

The company's cash cow, Fox News, lost host Bill O'Reilly last quarter, but the tumult didn't seem to hurt too much financially, as the cable network programming segment boosted both its revenue and operating income.

Domestic advertising for cable was up 6 percent, thanks to higher ratings at Fox News and increases at the National Geographic TV channel. Plus, domestic affiliate revenue for cable increased 10 percent in the quarter.

During a conference call with analysts, executive co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch said Fox News was the most-watched cable network in the past 12 months.

The troubles at Fox News, where several women claim to have been mistreated, have been well reported, and Lachlan and his brother James, the CEO, seemed to address some of that in an internal letter that went to the conglomerate's employees on Wednesday, right after earnings were released.

"We aspire to put an ever greater focus on embracing our differences, listening to each other and celebrating the huge swath of diversity that is 21CF," the Murdoch brothers wrote in their memo. "We are committed to being an organization where anyone, from anywhere, feels welcome and can thrive."

The memo continued: "Storytelling demands open minds, to one another and to our audiences and the world around us. Achieving this balance and how we translate it into our day-to-day behaviors for the best collective outcome is work we are deeply focused on."

The brothers also said that 21st Century Fox has already made "an increased investment in our social impact efforts."

Back to the financial report, the television segment experienced a decline in both revenue and operating income in the quarter amid lower ratings and local advertising sales.

The movies Alien: Covenant and The Boss Baby were in theaters in the company's fiscal fourth quarter, but the filmed entertainment segment saw a decline in revenue and an operating loss. The revenue decline is owed to tough comparisons as Deadpool and The Martian did very well for the film studio a year ago in theaters and in home entertainment.

Also weighing on the film segment was a timing issue for the studio's most expensive film of the year, War for the Planet of the Apes, because most of the costs associated with that movie were accounted for in the just-ended quarter while the movie didn't open until the current quarter.

Shares of 21st Century Fox didn't budge in after-hours trading Wednesday after the financial results were released.

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