Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox (FOXA) posted on Tuesday an earnings miss during its first full quarter as an independent entity as it dealt with difficult film comparisons, currency obstacles and higher expenses.
While the parent of FOX Business and FX missed forecasts on the bottom line, its revenue exceeded expectations amid continued strength on the cable networks front.
21st Century Fox said it earned $1.26 billion last quarter, or 54 cents a share, compared with a profit of $2.23 billion, or 94 cents a share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items such as the $1.37 billion gain from the sale of a stake in pay-TV software company NDS Group, the company earned 33 cents a share last quarter, down from 38 cents the year before. Analysts had projected stronger EPS of 35 cents.
On the other hand, revenue jumped 17.6% to $7.06 billion, exceeding the Street’s view of $6.8 billion.
21st Century Fox also reported a 2% increase in operating income before depreciation and amortization, or OIBDA, to $1.62 billion. Expenses rose 22% amid the launch of new cable channels.
“We delivered strong revenue increases across all of our businesses as well as growth in OIBDA even as we made significant investment in our channels business, and faced a difficult film comparison and currency headwinds,” Murdoch said in a statement.
Earlier this year, 21st Century Fox separated from News Corp. (NWSA), which now houses the slower-growing publishing assets of Murdoch’s media empire such as the New York Post and book publisher HarperCollins.
Shares of New York-based 21st Century Fox were off 1.76% to $33.49 on Tuesday evening. The company’s shares have soared more than 51% so far this year, compared with a 23.6% rally for the S&P 500.
Last quarter’s revenue growth was fueled by a 12% jump in cable network revenue to $2.8 billion that offset a 22% jump in expenses to $1.84 billion. The company said two-thirds of the expenses were tied to the launch of new channels, including FXX and Fox Sports 1, which is now competing directly with Walt Disney’s (DIS) sports juggernaut ESPN.
Affiliate revenue jumped 10% at the domestic cable channels thanks to growth at regional sports networks, FX Networks and Fox News Channel. Ad sales at domestic cable channels increased 6%.
21st Century Fox said television revenue generated an 8% rise in revenue to $1.05 billion as retransmission consent revenue doubled and NFL viewership remained strong. These gains were offset by lower general entertainment ratings for shows like the X Factor and lower political advertising.
However, filmed entertainment OIBDA slumped 24% to $328 million as the year-earlier period included the box-office hit "Ice Age: Continental Drift." Revenue jumped 9% to $2.12 billion thanks to the syndication of "Modern Family" and the sale of the first two seasons of "New Girl" to Netflix (NFLX).