News Corp. Profit Nearly Triples; Revenue Short of Estimates

Rupert Murdoch-controlled media conglomerate News Corp. (NWS) on Wednesday said its fiscal second-quarter profit nearly tripled, boosted by gains from the sale of an education supplement unit.

The owner of the 20th Century Fox film studios and the Fox News channel said net profit for the quarter ending Dec. 31 rose to $1.08 billion, or 33 cents per share, from $386 million, or 13 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 1.5 percent to $6.7 billion, falling short of Wall Street estimates of $6.9 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

Excluding a $381 million gain from the sale of the TSL Education Ltd business, the company posted an operating profit of $694 million, or 21 cents per share, narrowly beating Wall Street estimates of 20 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

The gains were offset by a plunge in its newspaper and films division. Newspaper publishing unit operating income dropped 63 percent from lower advertising revenue in the U.K. and "redundancy" and depreciation costs.

The movies division operating income also fell by 27 percent as it was unable to top year-earlier results that were boosted by blockbuster DVD sales of "Day After Tomorrow" and "I, Robot."

Operating results masked gains at the Fox News cable network and the Fox Broadcasting division. TV quarterly operating profit rose 20 percent to $183 million.

Cable networks division operating income rose 15 percent to $262 million.

On the heels of ratings highs from its cable division, News Corp. is readying a new cable business channel, which it earlier expected to debut in 2005, but is now planning to launch in 2006.

Shares of News Corp., among the fastest growing media companies, have fallen 7.6 percent in the past 12 months and it has underperformed the S&P 500 index by 11.5 percent.

Media companies in general have faced depressed valuations on concerns that new technology and evolving consumer interest would lead viewers to the Internet. is operated by FOX News Channel, which is owned by News Corp.