News Corp. Hits Targets

Fox News Channel posts strong numbers.
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News Corp.

(NWS) - Get Report

posted a strong fourth-quarter earnings report Wednesday, paced by growth in its television, cable network programming and newspaper segments.

For the fiscal fourth quarter ended June 30, the big media company earned $399 million, or 29 cents a share. That's up from the year-ago $370 million, or 24 cents a share. Excluding certain costs, latest-quarter earnings were $429 million, or 29 cents a share.

Revenue rose 20% from a year earlier to $5.52 billion, and operating income rose 31% from a year ago to $747 million.

All the numbers were in line with or ahead of the Wall Street estimate. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had expected earnings of 28 cents a share on revenue of $5.25 billion. The median operating profit expectation was $722 million.

"We delivered our third consecutive year of record operating profits on double-digit revenue and operating income gains," CEO Rupert Murdoch said. "Our success was once again achieved across our uniquely balanced collection of assets with record profits generated at nearly every established business segment from our film to our television to our print assets."

The news comes as the company prepares for a move to the U.S. toward the end of the year. News Corp. has been based in Australia for many years but unveiled plans this spring to move stateside to boost its visibility with advertisers and investors.

Operating income at the filmed entertainment segment rose 7% from a year ago, driven by domestic home entertainment performances of

Cheaper by the Dozen

.

Operating income at the TV segment jumped 21% from a year ago to $351 million, reflecting earnings improvement at the Fox Broadcasting Company and Fox Television Stations, and higher contributions from Star.

Cable network programming operating surged 60% from a year earlier to $154 million, led by Fox News Channel, which reported operating income growth of over 40%. News Corp. said higher advertising pricing drove double-digit revenue gains over a year ago.

The newspaper segment reported fourth-quarter operating income of $144 million, a 14% increase vs. the same period a year ago. Advertising strength throughout the year drove the growth in both the U.K. and Australia, with circulation revenue gains coming in the U.K.

Along with strong contributions from the company's U.S. entertainment subsidiary,

Fox

(FOX) - Get Report

, News Corp. cited strong subscriber gains at

DirecTV

(DTV)

and the company's Sky Italia satellite unit.

During the fourth quarter, Sky Italia reported an operating loss of $19 million, narrowing the year-ago loss by $49 million. Over 90% of the new subscribers during the quarter opted for a premium-programming tier including movies and/or sports programming.

DirecTV, which last week reported surprisingly strong subscriber growth in the June quarter, represents further satellite-related good news for shareholders.

On Wednesday, News Corp. slipped 38 cents to $32.14.