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Dow Jones Bids Adieu With Profit Beat

The publisher's last earnings report before the News Corp. acquisition shows improvement.

Dow Jones (DJ) , in what was likely its last earnings report as a standalone company, reported an 87% drop in third-quarter profits against year-ago results that included a big tax gain.

Excluding special items, however, earnings more than doubled and topped expectations. Revenue rose 20%, helped by recent acquisitions.

The New York-based publisher posted third-quarter earnings of $13.8 million, or 16 cents a share, down from 105.4 million, or $1.26 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items in both quarters, earnings jumped to 27 cents a share from 11 cents last year. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 22 cents a share.

Among those one-time items were 9 cents a share in charges tied to the company's pending acquisition by

News Corp.


. Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate agreed to buy the

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Wall Street Journal

publisher for $60 a share, or $5 billion, earlier this year.

Murdoch's offer created a soap opera on Wall Street and in media circles as Dow Jones' controlling shareholders, the Bancroft family, battled over whether to sell the venerable publisher. Ultimately, Murdoch's rich bid, which came at a 67% premium to where the stock was trading when the offer became public, won out, and the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

In the third quarter, Dow Jones' revenue climbed to $493.3 million from $412.4 million the prior year, shy of Wall Street's forecast of $496 million. Excluding the effect of acquisitions, revenue inched up 1.8%.

Revenue growth was hit by an ongoing decline in print advertising. At

The Wall Street Journal

print edition, advertising revenue declined 2.9%. Those were partially offset by gains in the paper's digital edition.

Dow Jones said it expects its print ad revenue trend to improve in the fourth quarter, with online ad revenue growing at least 20%. It anticipates earnings per share, before items, will climb in excess of 40%, at the top end of its guidance.

Shares of Dow Jones recently were down a penny to $59.69.