News Corp reports earnings after the bell and the big questions are: how are its advertising-reliant assets weathering the ad downturn? And is CEO Rupert Murdoch delivering adequate return on investment?
Wall Street's expecting earnings of 34 cents a share, up 22 percent from the same quarter last year, on revenue of $8.5 billion, up 15 percent from the year ago period. About a quarter of News Corp's revenue comes from ads, so second only to CBS , News Corp is the media giant most exposed to the weak ad markets. And with its recent acquisition of Dow Jones, it's exposed to the particularly weak publishing ad space.
On this afternoon's earnings call investors are going to be particularly interested in return on investment numbers. How will Murdoch fully monetize the millions of MySpace users? Can Dow Jones adequately expand online to justify the acquisition? Just today numbers came out showing that for the first time broadcast TV advertising has surpassed newspaper ads.
Does it make sense to be so deeply invested in that space? And now that online ads are starting to feel the pinch of the economic downturn as well, what's Murdoch's strategy to help online properties flourish despite cyclical hiccups?
The other question analysts have been talking about is simple: Where's the growth? The company's domestic cable networks are maturing and facing cyclical challenges, and Sky Italia's growth is slowing. So perhaps global expansion will be the hot topic on today's conference call.
Yesterday Murdoch announced a $100 million investment in six new Indian TV channels. He also said that Dow Jones is launching a new India Stock Market Index to track the fast growing economy. We'll see what else he has in store for other emerging markets.
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