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Gemstar quarter shinier

Company posted a profit of $1.6 million

NEW YORK — Gemstar-TV Guide’s interactive television channels drove the still struggling company to a slight profit last quarter while the publishing side continued to slip.

Company posted a profit of $1.6 million compared with a loss of $491.4 million in the fourth quarter 2003.

Gemstar said cable and satellite revenue from its TV operation clocked in at $64.3 million, up 44% from the year-earlier quarter. Revs at company’s publishing division, which includes the marquee TV Guide, fell 7.2% to $99.7 million.

Consumer licensing also fell to $22.6 million from $24.3 million a year ago.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. holds a 41% stake in Gemstar, while John Malone’s Liberty Media owns the majority 59%.

Wall Street analysts say it’s possible that Murdoch could buy out Liberty’s stake in Gemstar when figuring out how to wrest back a large chunk of News Corp. voting shares recently snapped up by Malone’s company.

Gemstar shares were down 7¢ to close at $5.43 in trading Wednesday.

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