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News Corp. Earnings Rise In Line With Forecasts

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. posted a slight rise in fiscal second-quarter profit, in line with expectations.

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

The New York-based media conglomerate, which closed a $5.6 billion deal to buy Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones in December, said quarterly profit increased to $832 million, or 27 cents per share, from $822 million, or 26 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 9.5 percent to $8.6 billion.

News Corp. was expected to have earned 27 cents a share on $8.25 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Financial.

Operating income jumped 23 percent to $1.4 billion, boosted by double-digit percentage gains in nearly all of its operating businesses. The company said it reported a record operating profit in the quarter.

Shares of the company were flat in after-hours trading Monday.

News Corp.reported higher advertising sales at its Fox News channel and the Fox television network, offsetting a decline in its movie studio business.

A one-time write-down of BSkyB's investment in ITV dragged affiliate earnings by $299 million.

"Our unrelenting focus on exploring new opportunities as consumer choice evolves and developing market leadership positions regardless of borders has enabled us to deliver consistently strong financial results irrespective of individual market conditions," Murdoch, News Corp's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

Operating profit at its cable networks, which also includes its regional sports networks and international channels, rose 23 percent to $337 million.

Excluding the write-down, Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield said, News Corp. did "significantly better than expected" on an operating basis.

Movie studio profit fell 14 percent from the absorption of costs to release box office hits "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and the "timing and delivery" of shows from its TV production studio.

Its Fox Interactive Media business helped boost operating income in its "other" segment to $23 million, a $22 million improvement. The company said the division's profit growth was driven by higher search revenue from its Google agreement.

News Corp. was widely expected to make the Web site of the Wall Street Journal freely available to Web viewers, but in January said it would give away parts of the site for free.

Murdoch's company also snapped up a stake in German pay-television broadcaster Premiere in January, putting the company in play as a takeover candidate, analysts said.

- Reuters contributed to this report.