NEW YORK, AP – News Corp.’s earnings rose 19 percent as stronger results from cable networks, broadcast television and movies outweighed a slump in newspapers, the media company reported Tuesday. Results were also lifted by a gain from selling a European radio business.
News Corp., the global media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, earned $852 million in the three months ended June 30, the final quarter of its fiscal year, up from $717 million in the same period a year earlier.
That worked out to 24 cents per Class B share, versus 19 cents per share a year ago. Revenue rose 11 percent to $6.78 billion from $6.11 billion.
On a conference call with analysts and reporters, Murdoch dismissed speculation that he was in talks to swap Sky Italia for a stake in Telecom Italia, as had been reported in Italian news media.
“The Italian press buzzes a lot,” Murdoch said. “We’ve had talks, which are not advanced, on the sale of content.”
Separately, Murdoch also said the company was continuing discussions with John Malone, whose Liberty Media Corp. holds about 19 percent of News Corp.’s voting stock, while the Murdoch family has 30 percent.
News Corp. has put in place a “poison pill” measure intended to thwart a hostile takeover attempt, but agreed to put the measure to a vote at its next annual meeting this fall after several shareholders contested it.
Murdoch also said the company was not considering other major acquisitions in Internet companies. The day before, News Corp. announced a landmark deal that will allow Google Inc. to become the exclusive search provider on News Corp.’s MySpace.com site.
The latest quarterly results got a lift from a $134 million gain from the sale of a radio station group in the Netherlands and Germany.
Television earnings rose 17 percent on a rebound at the Fox network thanks to better ratings and ad pricing, and also lower programming costs versus the same period a year ago from starting “Family Guy” and “American Dad.”
News Corp. also reported that earnings from film and TV production nearly doubled, citing strong box office results from “Ice Age: The Meltdown” and good home video sales of other movies including “The Family Stone.”
Cable network earnings jumped 42 percent on growth at Fox News Channel, FX as well as a group of regional sports networks.
News Corp.’s earnings from newspapers, which are largely located in the U.K. and Australia, fell 33 percent, which the company said was largely due to lower earnings at its U.K. operations, which include The Times.
The company cited the sale of an education business there, costs for launching a consumer magazine division and overall weakness in the advertising market.