Media group News Corp. (NWS: Quote,NWSA: Quote), said Wednesday reported a slip to a loss in the fourth quarter, hurt mainly by hefty impairment charges and lower revenues that missed Street estimates as Filmed Entertainment and Publishing segments fared poorly.
Moving forward, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch said the company, which is splitting, has made strong progress in addressing its non-consolidated assets.
Murdoch said, "... News Corporation is in a strong operational, strategic and financial position, which should only be enhanced by the proposed separation of the media and entertainment and publishing businesses."
News Corp., which publishes the Wall Street Journal and the Times, said quarterly results were impacted by a $2.9 billion pre-tax impairment and restructuring charge mainly at its publishing businesses.
The company also reported lower earnings across most segments, with the exception of Cable business. The Filmed entertainment segment operating income slid to $120 million from $210 million last year, on lower theatrical and home entertainment revenues.
At SKY Italia - its direct broadcast television segment - operating income dropped to $89 million from $145 million in the prior year, as subscription revenues waned.
Publishing segment operating income plunged to $139 million from $270 million last year, mainly on lower advertising revenues as well as the absence of contributions from the now defunct and scandal-hit "News of the World" tabloid.
Results were somewhat cushioned by Cable networks segment where revenues rose 15 percent year-over-year, and operating income was up 26 percent at $792 million.
The New York-based company reported fourth quarter net loss of $1.55 billion or $0.64 per share, compared to net income of $683 million or $0.26 per share last year.
Excluding items, adjusted earnings for the quarter were $0.32 per share, compared to $0.35 per share last year.
On average, 23 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $0.32 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.
Revenues for the quarter totaled $8.37 billion, compared to $8.96 billion last year. Twenty analysts expected revenues of $8.73 billion for the quarter.
News Corp. has declared a dividend of $0.085 per share, payable on October 17 to holders of record on September 12.
The company, which in May 2012 announced an increase in its stock repurchase program to $10 billion, said that through August 7, it has purchased about $5.1 billion of Class A common stock.
News Corp. in June announced plans to split into two separate publicly traded entities - one of which will consist of newspapers and publishing operations, and the other will focus on media and television.
The move came as shareholders evoked concerns over the scandal at "News Of The World" tabloid, which closed down in July 2011 after investigators uncovered the hacking of voicemail messages of celebrities and victims of crime. Earlier this month, former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and six others were formally charged in London in connection with the scandal.
NWSA closed Wednesday at $23.72, down 0.59%, on a volume of 22 million shares on the Nasdaq. In after hours, the stock slid $0.2 or 3.46%.
NWS closed at $23.89, up 0.38%, on a volume of 4.8 million shares. In after hours, the stock further dropped $0.61 or 2.55%.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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