Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has shrugged off its latest annual loss with an upbeat assessment of its digital news and real estate assets.
The publishing group reported a net loss of $US1.4 billion for 2017/18, which was worse than the previous year’s $US643 million.
But the result was skewed by accounting writedowns, including $US998 million for the consolidation of Foxtel and Fox Sports in Australia.
CEO Robert Thomson said the group had gone through a year of “operational and transformational success” and pointed to revenue growth in its Digital Real Estate Services and Book Publishing arms.
“We also saw meaningful operational improvements at the News and Information Services segment led by higher digital paid subscribers and disciplined cost initiatives, notably in Australia,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“Mastheads like The Times, The Sunday Times and The Wall Street Journal reached new heights in their digital transformation, with digital paid subscribers now exceeding print subscribers.”
For News Corp’s global operation, revenue totalled $US9.01 billion, up 11 per cent, while earnings before interest tax and depreciation hit $US1.07 billion, up 21 per cent.
For the full year the News and Information Services division lifted revenue one per cent to $US50 million and News Corp Australia’s revenue also grew by one per cent.
Revenue for News Corp Australia was lower for the final quarter of 2017/18 despite an increase from its digital advertising revenue and an increase of subscribers.
News said its Australian mastheads – which include The Australian, Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph – had 415,600 subscribers as of June 30, up from 363,600 the year before.
In its online real estate businesses, which includes realestate.com.au in Australia, News recorded a 22 per cent increase in revenue to $US203 million.
“Digital Real Estate Services continues to flourish,” Mr Thomson said.
Mr Thomson also lauded the seven per cent increase in revenue and 23 per cent increase in earnings for the book publishing division.
“HarperCollins’ success underscores the importance of intelligent editors and great writers in creating premium content,” he said.
“Algorithms are, as yet, unable to write empathetic, compelling books.”