News Corp Q2 results beat expectations

NEW YORK: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp reported yesterday second-quarter results that were slightly ahead of expectations, as gains in its film entertainment and cable network businesses offset mixed results in its TV and newspaper divisions and continuing losses related to its Gemstar investment. 

For the three months to Dec 31, 2002, the Australia-based media giant earned US$239mil, compared with a loss of US$606mil at the same time in 2001 when its results were hurt by a US$909mil write-down of its sports contracts. 

News Corp also raised its growth estimate for the rest of the year, saying it expected operating income to grow in the “low to mid-20% range”. Its previous estimate had been for growth in the “high teens to low 20% range”. 

Group revenues for the quarter in review were US$4.68bil versus US$4.12bil a year earlier. 

News Corp said second-quarter income at its filmed entertainment division more than doubled to US$255mil from US$115mil previously, reflecting strong video and DVD sales of blockbuster movies. Income was also higher at its cable network business. 

The TV division's performance was more mixed, despite reporting second-quarter operating income of US$165mil compared with US$113mil the prior year. Improving advertising revenues helped the company’s Fox Television Stations report a US$60mil increase in second-quarter operating income. But operating losses increased at its Fox Broadcasting Co, reflecting the cancellation of several new series and increased promotional spending. 

The group's newspaper business posted an operating income of US$102mil, down 10% from a year earlier, due in large part to circulation revenue declines in Britain. 

For its fiscal year to date, News Corp earned US$401mil, versus a loss of US$533mil a year earlier. Revenues for the fiscal first half were US$8.49bil, up from US$7.52bil previously. – AP  

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