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News Corp Beats Expectations on Higher Ad Sales

Higher ad revenues helped drive up News Corp results — revenue grew 6 percent to $8.11 billion, a hundred million dollars more than Wall Street expected.

The company's fiscal fourth quarter earningswere 33 cents per share, including one-time gains and losses, including the sale of a TV station and a favorable British Sky Broadcasting litigation settlement. Wall Street analysts expected profit of 20 cents per share. The company said on the earnings call that the 33 cents is net of one time charges and gains — comparing it to an 8 cent-per-share loss a year ago, which included charges.

Rupert Murdoch
Nick Laham | Getty Images
Rupert Murdoch

CEO Rupert Murdoch did not make his usual comments at the top of the earnings call — instead News Corp Deputy Chairman, President and Chief Operating Officer took the helm, outlining the various divisions' strength. Carey said he's confident about the strength of broadcast and ad revenue.

Is this a sign that Murdoch is shifting of power to his deputy?

Murdoch did take some questions about the state of the economy, saying he's "very, very confident" about the next six months, though there's sufficient fragility he's not overly confident about the long-term or medium.

Sounds like cautious optimism.

Advertising's rebound is the story driving News Corp — along with the other media giants this quarter. Local TV station ad revenues grew 29 percent in the quarter, driving Fox TV stations operating income 15% higher to $220 million. Ad revenue at News Corp's domestic cable channels grew 11 percent in the fourth quarter, while international cable channels' advertising revenue grew 35 percent over the prior year.

Cable network programming continues to be News Corp's most profitable division, in keeping with the trends we've seen across the media giants. Cable network operating income for the quarter was $563 million, up from $429 million in the year-ago quarter.

"Advertising's rebound is the story driving News Corp spacer — along with the other media giants this quarter." -Media Money, CNBC, Julia Boorstin

Even the news division posted stronger ad numbers.

Newspaper division revenues (which includes Dow Jones information services) grew to $1.524 billion up from $1.4 billion a year ago sending operating income higher. Dow Jones ad revenue grew 14 percent while ad revenues at the UK newspaper group were 15 percent higher in local currency.

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Filmed entertainment suffered from the lack of any big box office hits this past quarter, but the strength of Avatar's DVD release helped offset those declines.

Filmed entertainment revenues inched up 70 million dollars to $1.7 billion for the quarter while filmed entertainment operating income dropped to $137 million, down from $203 million a year ago.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com