Strong performances from its filmed entertainment and cable networks divisions, coupled by renewed signs of health at its broadcasting unit, helped push News Corp. to a strong fiscal second quarter.
Overall revenue for the media giant rose 10% to $8.7 billion and operating income soared 44% to $1.2 billion. Operating income at Filmed Entertainment nearly tripled to $324 million in the recent period, fueled by strong sales of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and X-Men Origins: Wolverine DVDs. Box office results for Fox-produced films Avatar (already the highest-grossing movie of all time) and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel, won't take effect until the fiscal third quarter, the company said.
Cable network operating income rose 35% in the period to $604 million, mainly from strong performance from Fox News Channel, its regional sports networks, the Fox International Channels and STAR.
Fox News Channel reported its highest ever quarterly profit and increased its operating income 51% versus the same period last year, primarily from affiliate fee increases, the company said in a statement. At its other cable channels, operating profit rose 28%, also stemming from higher affiliate fees.
At the television segment, which includes its owned-and-operated television stations and its Fox Broadcasting network, operating income was $29 million in the period, compared to a negative $2 million in the prior year.
In a conference call with analysts, chief financial officer David DeVoe said that after six straight quarters of declines, revenue at the stations rose 6% in the fiscal second quarter. Operating income at the stations increased about 19%, DeVoe said.
"Our strong top-line revenue growth demonstrates that News Corporation is emerging from this recession with renewed vigor and strength," chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. "Moreover, our underlying operating trends this quarter far outpace those of the same quarter last year. We continue to reap the benefits from the restructuring and cost containment measures we instituted before the downturn began and I am pleased that our unrelenting focus has translated to growth across our businesses that will reward stockholders for years to come."