News Corp profit beats as cost cuts in news business pay off

News Corporation building in New York
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

News Corp. reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by cost cuts in its news and information services business that includes Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal.

Shares of the company, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, rose about 5.5 percent in extended trading. (Get the latest quote here.)

News Corp. said it was reviewing strategic options for Amplify, its flagship digital education brand. Chief Executive Robert Thomson said on a call with analysts that the company was in the final phase of talks with a potential acquirer for the business.

"We and most investors had basically written off Amplify," Macquarie Research analyst Timothy Nollen told Reuters.

The news would likely be taken positively because it shows that "they tried hard and that they've given up," Nollen said.

The company recorded an impairment charge of $371 million related to its digital education business.

News Corp, whose revenue is largely dependent on its newspaper holdings in the United States, Australia and Great Britain, has been diversifying its business as readers shift to digital media and newspapers advertising revenue slides.

The company kicked off in June a major reorganization including job cuts at Dow Jones.

Revenue at the news and information business fell 10 percent in the fourth quarter. But investors were upbeat about the company's core business.

"People think that video killed the radio star and the Internet killed the newspaper star," said Bill Smead, CEO of Smead Capital Management that owns about 2.2 million shares of News Corp.

"The brands that are owned by News Corp produce well-written words and well-made content, (so) the distribution system won't end up mattering that much," Smead said.

As part of its shift, News Corp has seen strong growth in its digital real estate business, which include U.S. website realtor.com and a stake in Australian REA Group.

Revenue in its book publishing business, which includes HarperCollins Publishers, rose 8 percent in the fourth quarter. Revenue from digital real estate services rose 67 percent.

Total revenue fell 2 percent to $2.14 billion, missing the average analyst estimate of $2.19 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net loss available to the company's stockholders was $379 million, or 65 cents per share, in the quarter ended June 30, compared with a profit of $12 million, or 2 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 7 cents per share, above the estimated 5 cents.