NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Rupert Murdoch's main investment vehicles reported substantial gains in quarterly earnings Wednesday, as the media mogul reaped the benefit of a much-improved performance from his movie making operations.|
Operating earnings at News Corporation (NWS: Research, Estimates), the Australia-listed firm at the hub of Murdoch's empire, rose 15 percent to $417 million in the three months ended March 31. The earnings improvement was on the back of a 5 percent jump in revenue to $3.24 billion.
In part, the improvement was attributable to the box office success of the movie "The Beach", starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The film has grossed $135 million in worldwide receipts so far. The filmed entertainment unit posted a quarterly operating profit of $95 million, against a profit of $38 million in the equivalent period a year ago. The largest contributor remains the newspaper division, which added $139 million to operating income, up from $120 million a year ago.
Fox Entertainment, the New York-listed offshoot which is 81 percent-owned by News Corp., unveiled a 50 percent rise in quarterly operating income to $151 million, while revenue for the period rose 9 percent to $1.88 billion.
The contribution from filmmaking more than doubled to $111 million in the quarter, although the television stations' contribution slipped 11 percent to $133 million. The company blamed additional expenses incurred while attempting to boost audience ratings for the Fox network. Earnings per share at Fox rose to three cents from a penny. According to First Call/Thomson Financial, Wall Street analysts had penciled in earnings per share of two cents. Fox (FOX: Research, Estimates) shares closed up 1/16 at 27-1/8, prior to the earnings being released, while News Corp. ADRs closed down 1-1/2 at 48-3/8.
Earlier Wednesday British Sky Broadcasting (BSY), News Corp.'s 40 percent-owned British unit, posted a third-quarter loss of approximately $36 million because of the increased cost of signing up new subscribers to its digital satellite service.