News Corp has lifted first-quarter profit 48.5 per cent to $US101 million ($A138.8 million) despite a seven per cent fall in revenue at its Australian newspapers.
Total advertising revenues at News Corp’s news and information unit declined seven per cent from the same time a year ago, partly driven by weakness in print.
News Corp said the weakness was mainly in Australia – where titles include The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun – and in the UK.
But overall News Corp revenue rose 23 per cent to $US2.52 billion, helped by the local merger of Foxtel and Fox Sports, the strong performance of its real estate assets, and book publishing.
Chief executive Robert Thomson said the news unit had still shown progress, with nearly 65 per cent of Wall Street Journal subscribers now digital only.
“Our growth in revenue and earnings reaffirmed our strategy to focus on digital development, and to put particular emphasis on subscriptions as the advertising market continues to evolve,” Mr Thomson said.
There were 442,400 digital subscribers to News Corp Australia’s mastheads at September 30, compared to 375,400 in the prior year.
REA Group, the ASX-listed company that owns realestate.com.au and is 61.6 per cent owned by News Corp, said first-quarter earnings grew 23 per cent to $A130.9 million on a 17 per cent lift in revenue.
“Despite tougher market conditions, our customers and consumers are clearly seeing value in the products and experiences we are creating,” REA Group chief executive Tracey Fellows said.
News Corp’s ASX-listed shares rose nearly four per cent following the trading update, while REA Group jumped nearly six per cent.