21st Century Fox Touts Cable Assets in First Earnings Call Since Split

Revenue rose 16% in the quarter

21st Century Fox COO Chase Carey touted the growth in the company’s new sports businesses as “the most significant event” from the past year in the company’s first earnings call since splitting from News Corp. in June.

The company, which announced revenues of $7.21 billion in the quarter, has been preparing for the launch of its new Fox Sports 1 network, as well as building FXX. Quarterly revenues were up 16% from the same period last year, slightly beating analyst expectations. Income rose to $977 million, up from $596 million last year.

Television and cable operations drove 2013 revenues up 9% over the prior year period to $27.68 billion. Company also ended the year with $6.6 billion in cash.

Excluding one-time costs, including June’s split, 21st Century Fox posted a profit of 31 cents per share, compared to last year’s 27 cents per share.

Besides separating from News Corp., which now holds the publishing assets of the former News Corp. entity, Fox has been busy spending hundreds of millions of dollars to broadcast content from MLB, Nascar and the NFL.

Filmed entertainment operating income dropped to $117 million in the quarter, compared to $140 million for the same period last year. DreamWorks Animation’s “The Croods,” the home entertainment performance of “Life of Pi,” and pay-tv revenues from “Ice Age: Continental Drift” and “Prometheus” drove earnings on the film side.

Carey said he expected fiscal 2014 results from the filmed entertainment segment to be “down a touch … As we prudently would not forecast our releases (to have) the level of contributions that ‘Ice Age 4’ had.”

But Fox’s cable assets including its Regional Sports Networks, Fox News Channel and FX Networks were the biggest driver of EBITDA. Carey projected “continued, solid growth” from the those operations.

21st Century Fox posted a decline in income of $371 million. That’s better than the prior year’s quarter, when News Corp. took a hit of $1.55 billion amidst its split between its publishing and entertainment assets.

21st Century Fox will hold an investor day on Thursday in Los Angeles.