21st Century Fox Posts Big Earnings Beat

Earnings FOXBusiness

Media giant 21st Century Fox (FOXA) reported a strong quarterly beat over Wall Street’s expectations Wednesday, citing healthy profits in its film and cable news divisions.

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In the most recent three-month period, 21st Century Fox reported earnings per share of 53 cents on revenue of $8.06 billion. Wall Street analysts had forecasted earnings of 41 cents per share on revenue of $7.36 billion.

Fox reported fiscal second quarter net income of $6.21 billion, much of it accrued in a $5.04 billion gain from the sale last year of its satellite businesses, Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, to British Sky Broadcasting Group, which was renamed Sky PLC after the sale.

“We delivered solid quarterly results despite continuing currency headwinds and ratings challenges at the Fox broadcast network,” Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said in a statement.

Total quarterly revenue was down slightly from a year ago when the company pulled in $8.2 billion.

The cable network unit revenue increased $121 million or 12% to $1.16 billion, driven by a 14% revenue increase on strong affiliate and advertising revenue growth, the company said.

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The revenue improvement in that unit was partially offset by a 16% increase in segment expenses, about half of which reflected the combined impact of planned investments in the new sports channels, Fox Sports 1 and STAR Sports, combined with the consolidation of the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network.

The company’s film unit revenue were boosted by the strong performance of several successful worldwide theatrical releases including The Maze Runner and Gone Girl, which have grossed over $340 million and over $365 million in worldwide box office to date, respectively, according to the company’s earnings report.

As a result of these and other successful releases in the year the studio has broken the all-time global box-office industry record, generating more than $5.5 billion in 2014. In addition, its films received an industry-leading 24 Academy Award nominations -- including Best Picture nominations for Birdman and Grand Budapest Hotel which won the Golden Globe for Best Picture -- Comedy.

Fox also increased its semiannual dividend by 20% to 15 cents. The dividend is payable April 15 to shareholders of record March 11.

21st Century Fox is the parent company of FOXBusiness.com.