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News Corp Reports Higher Quarterly Profit

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. on Wednesday said fourth-quarter profit rose 4.5% on higher advertising sales and affiliate revenue from the Fox News Channel and on more new subscribers at the Sky Italia satellite TV service.

News Corp. , which said revenue was lower at its 20th Century Fox movie studios, said its fiscal fourth-quarter net income rose to $890 million, or 28 cents per share, from $852 million, or 27 cents per share, a year earlier.

Quarterly operating income rose 18% to $1.2 billion while revenue rose 8.6% to $7.37 billion.

Murdoch secured a $5.6 billion deal to buy Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, for $60 per share last week.

Cable networks, including Fox News, posted operating income 46% higher and revenue 17% higher.

News Corp.'s satellite television operation operating profit rose 84% and revenue rose 15%. It ended the quarter with 4.2 million customers.

Movie studios' operating profit fell nearly 50% and revenue fell 18.5% compared with the same period last year when it saw strong box office sales from "Ice Age: The Meltdown," the company said. Quarterly results were also dragged by costs from the release of "Fantastic Four."

Newspaper segment operating income rose 19.4%, reflecting higher contributions from its papers in the United Kingdom and Australia. Newspaper revenue rose 13%.

UK newspaper ad and circulation revenue fell, but promotional and employee costs also fell, News Corp said. The Australian papers reported higher ad revenue, but that was offset by increased costs for newsprint and production.

News Corp. shares trade at a premium to its media conglomerate peers.

Its enterprise value -- market capitalization plus debt, minus cash -- trades at 11.57 times its estimated 2008 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, compared with Time Warner's 7.75 multiple and Walt Disney's 8.45 multiple.

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