Twenty-First Century Fox Revenue Rises 4.2%

By Anya George Tharakan Earnings Reuters

(Reuters)

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc reported a quarterly profit that beat analysts' expectations, as its television unit benefited from hosting the baseball World Series and its cable news channel enjoyed strong ratings during the U.S. presidential campaign.

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However, the parent of Fox News and FX posted second-quarter revenue that fell short of expectations. Fox's shares were down about 1.7 percent in after-hours trading on Monday.

Fox said revenue at its cable division, which houses the Fox channels among others, rose 7.1 percent to $3.97 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

Domestic advertising sales in the cable business rose 12 percent in the quarter, the company said.

Fox News finished 2016 as the most-watched U.S. cable network in primetime for the first time in its history, according to Nielsen data in December, as Trump's victory drew in extraordinary audience interest.

On U.S. election night, Nov. 8, Fox News drew 12.1 million viewers during primetime, second only to Time Warner Inc-owned CNN's 13.3 million viewers among U.S. TV networks.

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Additionally, Fox benefited from hosting the Major League Baseball World Series held between October and November last year, in which the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians.

Twenty-First Century Fox said revenue in its film division decreased nearly 4 percent.

The Rupert Murdoch-controlled company's total revenue increased 4.2 percent to $7.68 billion.

Analysts on average were expecting revenue of $7.72 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income attributable to Fox shareholders rose to $856 million, or 46 cents per share, from $672 million, or 34 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Fox earned 53 cents per share, above analysts' average estimate of 49 cents.

Fox has also made a formal approach to take full control of the British-based Sky Plc, with a $14.6 billion bid, enabling it to control a business with 22 million customers in Britain, Ireland, Italy, Germany and Austria.

The company said on Monday that it expects the deal to close on or before Dec. 31, 2017. 

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