News Corp shares are up after it posted $US23 million ($A32.9 million) net income for the third quarter, with the consolidation of Foxtel and a strong performance by HarperCollins offsetting a decline in news and information earnings.
The result compared to a net loss of $US1.1 billion a year ago – when the Rupert Murdoch-controlled media firm revalued its Foxtel and Fox Sports Australia operations.
The company’s ASX-listed shares were up 1.69 per cent to $16.86 at 1135 AEST on Friday.
That is still more than 24 per cent lower from $22.32 a year ago.
News Corp’s unaudited earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation for the first three months of 2019 rose 36 per cent to $US247 million ($A353.3 million).
The third quarter update on Friday showed a 17 per cent increase in revenue to $US2.46 billion, compared to $US2.09 billion in the prior year, which the company said was helped by a six per cent lift at its book publishing segment.
“News Corp reaped rewards from our digital strategy this quarter, underscored by a robust rise in digital subscriptions across our media properties, a sharp increase in digital audio book sales and continued expansion at our digital real estate businesses despite volatile conditions in property markets,” chief executive Robert Thomson said.
Digital subscribers at News Corp Australia’s mastheads – which include the Daily Telegraph, The Herald Sun and The Australian – rose 20.5 per cent from a year ago, from 409,000 to 493,200, according to the company’s internal data.
However, there was a seven per cent revenue decline across the company’s Australian news titles, while its global news and information revenues dropped five per cent to $US1.22 billion on “foreign currency fluctuations”, flat circulation and subscription revenues, and reduced marketing sales.
Total earnings at across News Corp’s global news and information segment was down 16 per cent to $US73 million from a year ago.
Subscription video revenues and earnings increased $US410 million and $US82 million respectively, primarily due to the inclusion of Foxtel, with New Foxtel’s total closing subscribers at 2.9 million, also higher than the prior year.
The company said this was thanks to the launch of Kayo Sports, subscriber growth at Foxtel Now and the inclusion of commercial subscribers of Fox Sports Australia, partially offset by lower broadcast subscribers.
As of May 8 there were 239,000 Kayo Sports subscribers, of which 209,000 were paying subscribers, and 567,000 Foxtel Now subscribers, of which 505,000 were paying subscribers.