Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOXA) - Get Report stock was rising in after-hours trading on Wednesday, Nov. 8, after the company reported revenue for the September quarter that beat analyst expectations, while earnings of 49 cents per share were in line with Wall Street forecasts.
Fox shares were up nearly 1% after Wednesday's closing bell at $28.09.
Fox's better-than-expected results came as investors continue to wonder what to make of a CNBC report earlier this week that Fox executives recently spoke with their counterparts at Walt Disney Co. (DIS) - Get Report about selling their film and TV production studio along with their Star India networks and 39% stake in Sky plc, the enormous European satellite TV operator.
While CEO James Murdoch said he wouldn't respond directly to deal speculation, he did address the question of scale. Reports this week portrayed a Fox executive team concerned that it doesn't have a clear path to amassing the kind of global scale in media and distribution networks necessary to compete successfully with Disney, Netflix Inc. (NFLX) - Get Report and technology powerhouses such as Facebook Inc. (FB) - Get Report and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) - Get Report .
"We're not a collector of assets, we're an operator," Murdoch said. "We've taken a lot of steps to change our portfolio over the past few years, and we've really simplified our operating model. We have a great set of brands and businesses that we really like."
Lachlan Murdoch, who shares the title of executive chairman with his father, Rupert, concurred. "We've always been asset builders," he said. "We operate these businesses to build them and grow."
For the moment, Fox's earnings underscore the strength of the company's television properties, led by the Fox News Channel. Despite a string sexual harassment settlements, the network continues to power its entertainment division, securing double-digit percentile increases in the so-called affiliate fees it receives from pay-TV providers.
For the quarter ended Sept. 30, Fox reported a 7% increase in revenue for the quarter to $7 billion, beating the average Wall Street estimate of $6.81 billion, according to a Bloomberg survey of equity analysts who cover the stock.
On the downside, Fox said profit at its broadcast network declined 36% in the quarter due to the cost of sports programming. The Fox broadcast network wasn't included in initial deal talks with Disney. Those talks are no longer taking place.
Fox also said it expected U.K. regulators studying Fox's proposed $14 billion acquisition of shares in Sky it doesn't already own to rule on the matter by June 30, 2018.
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