News Corp takes near $3BN hit on publishing as revs flatten and profits fall

Joseph O'Halloran | 09-08-2012

What a difference a year makes: 12 months ago an imperious News Corp was advancing on all forts but at the end of fiscal 2012 it has taken a $2.9BN hit from its scandal-hit publishing division on the back of revenues of annual revenue of $33.7 billion.

This figure however, was only 1% up on the previous year and drove total segment operating income of $5.4 billion compared to $4.9 billion reported a year ago. Net income was $1.2 billion, compared with $2.7 billion at the end of fiscal 2011.

This increase was driven by operating income improvements at nearly all of the company’s segments, led by a $535 million, or 19%, increase at the Cable Network Programming segment and a $205 million, or 22%, increase at the Filmed Entertainment segment.

For the quarter ended 30 June 2012, News Corp reported revenue of $8.4 billion, 600 million down on 2011. The Cable Network Programming division was star performer with 15% revenue growth. Even though the company reported quarterly total segment operating income of $1.2 billion, down $167 million on 2011, it reported a quarterly net loss of $1.6 billion as compared with net income of $683 million in the quarter for the previous year.The quarterly results included a $2.9 billion pre-tax impairment and restructuring charge primarily related to the Company’s publishing businesses. Drilling down into divisions, the television business reported yearly profits of $706 million as compared with $681 million the year earlier. 2012 fourth quarter profit was $213 million, a whole $20 down on 2011.

Direct broadcast satellite (DBS) TV Q4 profits in sank from $145 million in 2011 to $89 million. This decline was said to reflect a doubling of retransmission consent revenues being more than offset by lower national advertising revenues primarily driven by lower American Idol ratings. Yearly profits actually grew from $232 million to $254 million.

Cable Network Programming reported annual segment operating income of $3.3 billion, a $535 million, or 19%, increase over the prior year, driven by a 14% increase in revenue. Operating income contributions from the domestic channels increased 21%, underpinned by growth at the Regional Sports Networks, Fox News Channel and the FX Network. The Company’s international cable channels grew earnings 16%, reflecting strong growth in Latin America and Asia.

Commenting on what has been a bruising year both personally and professionally, and where his own future as figurehead has been questioned for the first time, News Corp Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch said: “We are proud of the full year financial growth achieved over the last twelve months, led by our Cable Network Programming and Filmed Entertainment segments…significant progress has been made in

opportunistically (sic) addressing the Company’s non-consolidated assets, as demonstrated by the purchase of Fox Pan American Sports, the sale of NDS and the announced intention to purchase the remaining ownership stake of ESPN STAR Sports and Consolidated Media Holdings. Our Company has continued to innovate, grow and consistently adapt to the rapidly changing media industry landscape. We find ourselves in the middle of great change, driven by shifts in technology, consumer behaviour, advertiser demands and economic uncertainty and change brings about great opportunity.”