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Time Warner vs. 21st Century Fox: What Wall Street’s Saying

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It wasn't without a degree of awkwardness that Time Warner (TWX - Get Report) reported second-quarter earnings just over 12 hours after former suitor 21st Century Fox (FOXA) retracted its $80 billion acquisition bid. Any inkling of financial weakness from Time Warner would have made CEO Jeff Bewkes look foolish for rejecting Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch's solicitation.

For Fox too, which reported after the bell Wednesday, softness in growth would have made the offer's withdrawal look like a desperate attempt to save face after over-estimating buying power.

But both companies averted such embarrassments by each reporting strong respective quarters. Time Warner, buoyed by HBO shows Game of Thrones and True Detective and home entertainment sales of The Hobbit and The Lego Movie, reported earnings of 98 cents a share on sales 3% higher year over year to $6.8 billion. Both measures topped analysts' estimates.

Fox, meanwhile, earned 42 cents a share over the June-ended quarter from 31 cents a share a year earlier, while revenue spiked 17% to $8.42 billion, driven by growth in filmed entertainment (with the quarter's hits X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Fault in Our Stars).

Must Read: Jeff Bewkes Flexes Muscles as Rupert Murdoch Tries to Save Face

Though the reports pointed to overall financial robustness, the companies still harbor vulnerabilities in certain divisions and as technology's evolution continues to throw curveballs to the media industry. In the most recent quarter, for example, television divisions remained weak: Fox's segment recorded a 20% drop in EBITDA on higher production and content costs, while Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting division reported ratings weakness. 

Analysts weighed in on the risks threatening Time Warner and Fox's long-term growth plans as standalone companies. 

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