News Corp.'s positive fiscal third quarter earnings report boosted shares on Tuesday (May 4) with the stock closing up 33 cents to $19.80. The global media giant, which recorded a big lift in film profits, thanks to movie Avatar, lifted its full year outlook, forecasting operating income would end the year in the high 20% range. The company had previously said it would be in the low 20% range. News Corp.'s fiscal year ends June 30.
Speaking on an earnings call with analysts and reporters, Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, noted that digital devices such as Apple's iPad would lead to a revolution in media consumption. Online video revenue is up 11% he said, noting strong contributions from Fox Business's online operations and Dow Jones. Elsewhere, Murdoch suggested News Corp. would have bigger news on the subscription front. The company has been negotiating a project that would involve a range of media companies creating paid content ventures.
Of major interest to the Wall Street community were further details surrounding on going retransmission negotiations. "Broadcasting is now attracting the dual revenue stream that enables Fox to achieve real value," said Murdoch. "Retrans is a real breakthrough," he said. News Corp.'s retrans contracts with Cablevision and satellite provider, Dish, expire in the fall.
When asked by an analyst on progress winning retrans dollars from non-owned affiliates of Fox, Deputy Chairman and COO Chase Carey confirmed that the company is still negotiating and had not yet received any contribution from outside affiliates.
Describing the ad market, Carey added that the company was bullish. "It is strong. It really is broad based in most categories not just auto, look at health and retail and there is some nice competition in the insurance space. Though there was little detail on Fox network's ad performance in the last quarter. Network presentations to advertisers start the week of May 17. "We are optimistic on the upfront," said Murdoch.
Executives declined to talk about when Fox News affiliate agreements were up for renewal. Though Carey said Fox News Channel was second perhaps only to Disney's ESPN in terms of power and importance.
Murdoch also noted the huge potential for the company in TV production, noting that the year's biggest hits, Glee and Modern Family came out of Twentieth Century Fox Television.
While the latest quarter delivered positive news for the stock, company CFO David DeVoe warned that film unit returns would be down by $100 million in the upcoming quarter versus the same period last year.