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News Corp.'s Soft 3rd-Qtr. Earnings Still Beat Expectations

9 May, 2001 By: Hive News

News Corp. reported lower fiscal-third quarter earnings Wednesday as a soft ad market and poor performances at the Fox film studio took their toll. But the results still topped Wall Street expectations as cable networks remained strong.

The Australia-based media and entertainment conglomerate said operating income in the three months to March 31 dropped 15% to $356 million from $417 million a year earlier. Aftertax profit excluding extraordinary items totaled $127 million, or 12 cents per American depositary receipt, down 34% from $193 million, or 18 cents a share, a year earlier.

The results topped Wall Street expectations by 3 cents a share, according to a consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Total revenue edged higher to $3.27 billion from $3.24 billion in the third quarter of 2000.

News Corp. chairman and c.e.o. Rupert Murdoch said the quarter contained "several notable successes," singling out gains at Fox News Channel, growing market share at Fox owned-and-operated TV stations and strong revenue at the BSkyB and STAR satellite television platforms.

"We are greatly encouraged by our businesses' ability to withstand the soft advertising market," Murdoch added.

News Corp.'s filmed entertainment unit reported operating income of $46 million in the third quarter, compared with $95 million a year ago. The company attributed the unit's lower results to the losses from sluggish boxoffice performances of Monkeybone and Say It Isn't So, coupled with marketing spending on upcoming new releases.

The television unit posted operating income of $96 million, compared with $95 million a year ago. Improved results in the Fox Broadcasting Co. and Star more than offset a decline in television station contributions.

News Corp.'s magazines and inserts reported third-quarter operating income of $67 million, compared with $73 million, a year ago.

The newspaper division posted operating income of $134 million, down from $139 million, a year ago, as weak currencies in Australia and Britain held back U.S. dollar results.

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