NEW YORK – News Corp Ltd. Tuesday posted a $606 million quarterly loss after a write-down on the value of its broadcast sports contracts and amid an industry-wide advertising slump that hurt its television and newspaper businesses.
Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch admitted that second quarter results had fallen short of the company's own revenue and profit goals, and News Corp. trimmed its growth outlook for 2002.
While the company said there were signs of improvement in the U.S. advertising market, the advertising slump took its toll on second quarter sports programming, resulting in a $909 million write-down on the National Football League, Nascar auto racing and Major League Baseball contracts at the Fox Entertainment Group, which is 85 percent controlled by News Corp.
"While ratings for both regular and post-season baseball and football remained strong, the anemic advertising market unfortunately prevented us from reaching our revenue or profit forecasts," Murdoch said in a statement.
But Murdoch also noted that, while the company sees no signs of an economic recovery, there are some hints of a modest upswing in the U.S. advertising market.
Nevertheless, Chief Financial Officer David DeVoe cut the company's expectations for 2002 operating income growth to the mid-single-digit percentage range from its earlier forecast of high-single-digit to low double-digit percentage growth.
The Fox Entertainment Group, which holds News Corp's television, film and cable businesses, said it expected its cash flow to be in the upper single digit percentage growth range, compared with its earlier forecast of low-to-mid teen percentage growth.
Including all one-time items, News Corp., which owns the Fox television network, Twentieth Century Fox film studio and a host of newspapers and cable channels, reported a second quarter net loss of $606 million, or 50 cents per American depositary receipt, compared with a net loss of $23 million, or 3 cents per ADR, in the year-ago period.
Other items for the second quarter ended Dec. 31 include charges associated with the pending sale of its stake in the Italian pay television joint venture Stream. It also wrote down the value of its stake in Kirch Media, the troubled German media group.
The one-time items also included a profit from the sale of News Corp.'s stake in Fox Family Worldwide Inc. to the Walt Disney Co.
The year-ago quarter included a charge from the restructuring of its WebMD Internet business.
Excluding one-time items, News Corp. earned $203 million, or 17 cents per ADR, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared to $270 million, or 26 cents per ADR, a year-earlier.
Revenues rose to $4.12 billion from $3.85 billion a year ago, helped by the acquisition of the Chris Craft television stations in July. On a pro forma basis, revenue increased 3 percent, boosted by the DVD releases of "Planet of The Apes" and "Dr. Doolittle 2," as well as higher revenues at the Fox News Channel.
The company's television unit was hit by declining ad revenue higher sports programming costs.
News Corp. is the parent company of the Fox News Channel, which operates FOXNews.com.