News Corp. Reports Huge Rise in Quarterly Profit

News Corp generic image - H 2012
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News Corp generic image - H 2012

The company led by CEO Rupert Murdoch posts another set of strong results for its cable networks unit.

News Corp. on Tuesday reported fiscal first-quarter earnings of $2.23 billion, compared with $738 million in the year-ago period. Revenue came in at $8.14 billion, compared with $7.96 billion.

The surge in earnings was due in part to a large pretax gain for the sale of NDS, a television and set-top box technology company.

The results include a $67 milion charge associated with the ongoing investigation into a phone-hacking scandal as well as $5 million spent on a proposal to split News Corp. into two separate, publicly traded companies.

Initial reaction to the financial results were positive, with the stock up 3 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday after having risen 1 percent to $24.59 during the regular session.

The revenue growth at News Corp. was led by a 16 percent surge to $2.45 billion at the company's cable network programming segment, the company said.

Advertising revenue at the domestic cable channels grew 8 percent, driven by growth at the Regional Sports Networks and Fox News Channel.

Filmed entertainment revenue rose 2 percent to $1.75 billion, television was up 4 percent to $959 million, direct broadcast satellite TV was down 11 percent to $817 million, publishing was off 3 percent to $2.02 billion, and the category of "other" rose 1 percent to $148 million.

Film results were driven in part by the successful theatrical performance of Ice Age: Continental Drift, which has grossed $870 million at the worldwide box office. Digital-distribution revenue also was strong due to a licensing deal with Netflix.

Television benefited from a doubling of retransmission consent revenue and "increased local advertising, driven by record first-quarter political advertising revenues," according to the company's financial release.

During a conference call with analysts, News Corp. deputy chairman and COO Chase Carey praised TV shows Homeland, Modern Family, New Girl, Glee and Sons of Anarchy and movies Taken 2 and the upcoming Lincoln and Life of Pi.

Carey expressed dismay over a four-game World Series and said he was looking forward to a "refreshed" American Idol in January as well as The Following starring Kevin Bacon, which he called a "dynamic upcoming series."

"News Corp. is in a unique position to face challenging macro-economic issues head on and to continue growing our core businesses while taking advantage of new opportunities wherever possible," Carey said during the conference call.