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News Corp. Revenues Fall on Weaker Ad Sales, Subscriptions

Revenues at News Corp. fell during the most recent fiscal quarter on weaker subscription sales and a sluggish advertising market.

The publishing company’s revenues dropped 3% to $2.19 billion, compared to the $2.26 billion in the year-ago period.

The company’s profit margins improved, however, with net income hitting $12 million, or 2 cents a share, compared to a loss of $1.1 billion, or $1.94 a share, in the same quarter last year.

The revenues were roughly in line with Wall Street’s predictions, although the profits fell short. Analysts projected that the company would see revenues of $2.16 billion and earnings per share of 3 cents, according to Reuters.

The earnings report came after News Corp. plunked down $415 million for romance novel publisher Harlequin Enterprises in May.

The publishing company is adjusting to life on its own two feet after it was spun off from Rupert Murdoch and family’s more profitable cable, TV and movie properties a little over a year ago.

“We remain firm believers in the power of print, but we are committed to using the power of technology,” said Robert Thomson, News Corp. chief executive officer on a conference call with investors and analysts Thursday.

The publishing chief said that “the sensibility of a startup has characterized our pursuit of global expansion,” arguing the company was trying to keep its overhead from growing along with its business.

“Our core message is untarnished and unvarnished,” said Thomson.

News Corp.’s brands include the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Harper Collins. The book publisher helped lift earnings with the success of its “Divergent” series. Despite the downturn, Thomson argued that print products are undervalued by advertisers, suggesting they have a better chance of resonating with consumers in “digitally distracted age.”

After the split, Murdoch’s other media assets, including 20th Century Fox, Fox News and Fox Broadcasting, were rechristened 21st Century Fox.

The company also reported its full year earnings for fiscal 2014 with revenues falling 4% to $8.57 billion, compared to prior year revenues of $8.89 billion. Net income was cut by more than half to $237 million, compared to $506 million in the prior year. Earnings per share was 41 cents, down from 87 cents in the previous fiscal year.

Shares of News Corp. closed Thursday down 1.19% at $17.42, but gained ground in after-market trading after results were announced.

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