News Corp profit surges on gains in real estate, book publishing, news media

Media company’s revenue grew 18% thanks to improvements at all its divisions

News Corp said quarterly profit rose nearly sixfold, driven by strong growth at its digital real-estate and book-publishing businesses as well as at Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones & Co.

The New York-based media company, whose holdings include the Journal, HarperCollins Publishers and news organizations in the U.K. and Australia, reported a profit of $196 million, or 33 cents a share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with a profit of $34 million, or 6 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose by 18% to $2.5 billion.

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On a call to discuss the company’s results, Chief Executive Robert Thomson touted content licensing payments from tech giants including Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Meta Platforms Inc.—as Facebook recently rebranded itself—which he said would "contribute annual revenues in the nine figures."

The fastest growth came from the company’s real-estate services division, which posted a 47% rise in revenue to $426 million and 16% increase in segment earnings to $138 million. The division includes a majority stake in REA Group Ltd. , a publicly traded digital real-estate company based in Australia, and an 80% stake in Move Inc., an online real-estate business based in Santa Clara, Calif., that primarily operates the website Realtor.com.

News Corp’s news-media businesses saw advertising revenue improve, as the easing of the pandemic led marketers to increase their spending.

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Dow Jones, the publisher of the Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch, reported a 15% rise in revenue to $444 million and a 32% increase in segment earnings to $95 million. The growth was primarily due to improved circulation and subscription revenue, higher advertising revenue and a $20 million contribution from the recent acquisition of Investor’s Business Daily, a financial news and research publication.

News Corp calculates segment earnings as revenue less operating and administrative expenses. Segment earnings exclude expenses such as interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, impairment and restructuring charges, and other items.

The Journal averaged more than 2.8 million digital-only subscribers in the quarter, up roughly 4% from over 2.7 million in the June quarter. Including the print edition, the Journal averaged 3.5 million subscribers for the period. Across the entire unit, Dow Jones reached an average 4.6 million subscribers in the quarter when including readers of Barron’s, MarketWatch, Financial News and Investor’s Business Daily.

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News Corp’s news-media segment, which includes the Sun, the New York Post and the Times in the U.K., reported an 18% increase in revenue to $576 million, benefiting from higher revenue from digital subscribers and a rebound in the advertising market. The unit swung to a segment profit of $34 million, compared with a loss of $22 million a year earlier.

A busy news period has contributed to a digital subscription bonanza across the media sector. The New York Times on Wednesday said it notched one of its best quarters for digital subscription on record, adding 455,000 new online subscribers, 320,000 of which were for its core news offering and 135,000 were for lower-cost products such as Wirecutter, its product-review site.

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News Corp’s Dow Jones unit has moved to grow its subscription products aimed at professionals and investors. Beyond its recent acquisition of Investor’s Business Daily, Dow Jones in August said that it had agreed to buy OPIS, an information services company focused on the energy and commodity industries.

In his remarks at an investor conference in September, Mr. Thomson said that analysts expect professional services to become a $24.5 billion market by 2026.

"It’s a large and growing market and Dow Jones will play an ever increasing role in that large and growing market," Mr. Thomson said.

News Corp’s book publishing division, which includes HarperCollins Publishers, grew revenue by 19% to $546 million. The revenue increase stemmed partly from the acquisition of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s books and media properties, a $349 million deal announced in March. Segment earnings rose 20% to $85 million.

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News Corp said its video-subscription unit, home to the company’s majority interest in the Foxtel pay-TV service in Australia, posted a 46% increase in segment earnings due in part to lower costs. Revenue in the unit rose 2.8% to $510 million.

Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com