Upbeat quarterly results predicted

NEW YORK — Several Wall Streeters applauded News Corp. and subsid Fox Entertainment on Friday, noting strong trends in key businesses fueled by advertising.

Credit Suisse First Boston out of Australia raised its rating on News Corp. to “outperform” from “neutral,” predicting upbeat quarterly results when the company reports Feb. 11. The investment bank, which boosted its 12-month price target on the stock to $37, sees robust U.S. ad trends fueling growth in the broadcast TV and cable biz.

Separately. analyst Spencer Wang of JPMorgan issued a similarly bullish note on Fox, which drew huge ratings for “American Idol” last week. He said studio 20th Century Fox is on a roll and the FX cable channel is going strong. “Overall, we continue to be impressed by Fox’s underlying operating momentum,” he wrote to clients.

The crucial earnings season starts in earnest for media companies Wednesday when AOL Time Warner reports fourth-quarter and full-year 2002 numbers. Investors hope the figures and accompanying commentary will shed light on the advertising market and other issues touching the sector.

News Corp. shares fell 1.97% to $27.38 in a down market Friday. Fox closed down 3.72% to $27.68.

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