21st Century Fox Beats Quarterly Earnings Expectations

Associated Press
Rupert Murdoch

It earned 48 cents per share in the most recent quarter on $7.89 billion revenue

21st Century Fox reported Monday that it earned 48 cents per share in the most recent quarter on $7.89 billion revenue, beating the expectations of Wall Street, in part due to a strong showing at the film studio and cable-network programming.

Analysts expected 21st Century Fox to earn 36 cents a share on revenue of $6.25 billion in its fiscal first quarter. In the year-ago period, it earned 33 cents a share on $7.06 billion in revenue.

Shares of 21st Century Fox sunk 3 percent Tuesday to $33.33, but were rising 1 percent after the closing bell.

The company said that The Maze Runner, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Fault in Our Stars helped drive results in the filmed entertainment segment, which reported a record of $458 million in operating income before depreciation and amortization.

The cable-network programming, the conglomerate's biggest segment, showed a 15 percent rise in revenue to $3.23 billion, though television segment was flat at $1.05 billion, and president and COO Chase Carey acknowledged "headwinds" at the Fox Broadcast Network. 

In fact, OIBDA declined at the TV segment, as it spent more for NFL games and for original scripted content.

But Carey told analysts during a conference call on Tuesday that ad prices "held up pretty well" and that concerns of weakness tied to competition from the Internet, DVRs and other digital technologies are "overblown."

He said the show Gotham is off to a "solid start," but acknowledged that rebuilding its TV schedule "will take some time."

Carey also defended the cable bundle and said 21st Century Fox would be "disciplined" when considering its streaming-video options.

"We believe the traditional bundle offers great value to consumers and will be the primary consumer package for years to come," Carey said Tuesday.

Shares of 21st Century Fox dropped 3 percent on Tuesday, but rose 2 percent after the closing bell.

Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch was not on the conference call with analysts, but instead offered a statement in the earnings release that read: "Our strong earnings and revenue growth in the quarter were driven by continued momentum at our cable network programming and filmed entertainment segments, reflecting sustained increases in affiliate fees as well as the global box office success of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Fault in Our Stars. Additionally, we continued our focus on driving long-term value through our planned investments in a number of our growing brands, most notably our new channels FXX, Fox Sports 1 and STAR Sports."