MSG Quarterly Earnings Beat Expectations

New York Knicks 2013 H

The company, which owns the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, also posted higher revenue.

LONDON - The Madison Square Garden Co. on Friday reported improved fiscal third-quarter financials that exceeded Wall Street expectations.

The company owns such New York sports franchises as the NBA's New York Knicks and NHL's New York Rangers, venues such as Madison Square Garden and TV assets like music cable network Fuse. MSG is controlled by the Dolan family, which also controls cable operator Cablevision Systems and AMC Networks.

PHOTOS: Leslie Moonves, David Zaslav, Robert Iger: 10 Highly-Paid Entertainment CEOs

MSG's earnings for the latest quarter to $38.4 million from $31.1 million in the year-ago period. Revenue grew three percent from the year-ago period to $412.4 million.

Stifel, Nicolaus analyst Benjamin Mogil called the results "well ahead of expectations." He explained: "The media and sports segments were the main drivers of the variance...Affiliate revenues were much higher than expected, indicating strong inflation escalators in their carriage deals, while at sports, costs were lower than expected as the new league deals (NBA and NHL) continue to be favorable to owners."

Addressing the recent NHL labor dispute, MSG president and CEO Hank Ratner said: "We successfully managed our business through the NHL work stoppage."

STORY: MSG Reports Rising Revenue Amid Hurricane Sandy Fallout, NHL Lockout

The final phase of the Madison Square Garden arena transformation project will begin following the end of the Knicks' and Rangers' seasons. "We look forward to the successful completion of this historic project in the fall," Ratner said. "With the approaching conclusion of this significant capital investment, long-term NBA and NHL collective bargaining agreements now in place, our recurring and increasing affiliation fee revenue base and a strong balance sheet, we believe our company is well-positioned to drive continued growth."

Twitter: @georgszalai