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News Corp.'s Profit Falls, But Operating Income Rises

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. reported a 13 percent decline in earnings Wednesday from a year ago, when results were lifted by gains from investment sales.

Earnings per share came in at 23 cents, a penny ahead of analysts expectations as reported by Thomson Financial and below the 27 cents per share in the year-ago period.

Revenue rose 19 percent to $7.07 billion.

News Corp.'s headquarters in New York.
Mark Lennihan
News Corp.'s headquarters in New York.

Operating income, which excludes the effects of the year-ago sales of News Corp.'s stake in the satellite broadcaster Sky Brasil and other investments, rose 23 percent to $1.05 billion.

The company, which is close to completing a deal to acquire Dow Jones , publisher of The Wall Street Journal, for $5 billion, earned $732 million in the three months ended in September, down from $843 million a year ago.

News Corp. already owns the Fox network, Fox News Channel, MySpace, the Twentieth Century Fox movie studio and newspapers throughout Australia, England and the New York Post.

News Corp. credited the gains to strong box office results from "The Simpsons Movie" and "Live Free or Die Hard," as well as higher earnings from cable TV networks and a return to profitability at Sky Italia, a satellite broadcaster.

Earnings from cable networks rose 16 percent as the Fox News Channel more than doubled its profits after raising the fees it charges cable operators. That division also had higher earnings from regional sports programming, offset partly by startup costs from its new channel, the Fox Business Network.

Newspaper profits fell 25 percent as the company recorded accelerated depreciation in its British operations largely because presses there will have to be replaced earlier than expected to make way for new color printing facilities. Circulation revenues grew slightly while advertising revenues fell slightly.

Broadcast television profit declined 5 percent as better results from the Fox network were offset by lower results from local TV stations and losses from MyNetworkTV, a mini-network that was launched a year ago following the shutdown of UPN.

News Corp. shares surged more than 5 percent, or $1.17, in after hours trading to $23.13. They had fallen 67 cents to $21.96 in regular trading Wednesday.