21st Century Fox suffers major profit fall

Michelle Clancy | 07-02-2014

Rupert Murdoch-controlled media giant 21st Century Fox saw its net income drop off precipitously to $1.21 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $2.38 billion a year earlier.

The company, formed in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal in the UK, exhibited slower growth for its broadcast television and film divisions as well. Under-performing holiday films along with the expense of launching the outlets including FXX and Fox Sports 1 have been attributed as the main reasons for the hit.

Indeed, the performance of films released through December 2013 was lacklustre, including the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, while in TV both the X-Factor and American Idol struggled in ratings, affecting advertising. The FOX news Channel was down year-over-year given the absence of a presidential election.

Excluding certain one-time items, including a share buy-back programme at UK pay-TV leader BSkyB, earnings per share came to $0.33.

However, a consolidation of revenue at some of its non-US satellite businesses — in particular Sky Deutschland — as well as revenue growth at the cable networks unit aided the company, and revenue grew 15% to $8.16 billion during the period, compared with $7.11 billion in the year-earlier period.

Operating profit for cable nets grew 2% while revenue rose 14%. US advertising revenue grew 7% in the quarter thanks to success at FX Networks and the Fox national and regional sports networks.

Operating income before depreciation and amortisation for broadcast fell to $218 million, compared with $245 million a year ago. Retransmission fee growth pushed revenue up by 6%, owing to growth in retransmission revenues.

At the company's filmed entertainment operations, operating income came to $337 million compared with $424 million in the year-earlier period.