Strong advertising sales and a record-breaking film slate lifted revenues and profits at 21st Century Fox, helping the media and entertainment giant beat Wall Street’s projections for its latest quarterly earnings results.
The media and entertainment giant reported revenues of $7.89 billion for the three month period ending in September. That represented a 12% increase over the $7.06 billion of revenue that the company post in the year-ago period. Earnings per share jumped from 33 cents a share in the year-ago period to 48 cents per share. Those figures trumped analysts’ projections — Fox was expected to report earnings of 36 cents a share and $6.25 billion in revenue.
Net income fell 13.5% to $1.09 billion, compared to $1.26 billion in the same period a year ago. The difference in profits was partially attributable to a one time $487 million gain from discontinued operations that Fox logged that was related to its 2013 split from News Corp.
Shares of the company fell more than 3% in the lead up to its quarterly earnings announcement in what was a brutal day for media stocks, but the company made back some of those losses. Fox shares climbed more than 2% in after hours trading on the strong quarterly results.
On the film side, Fox is having a record year, fielding global blockbusters such as “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “The Maze Runner” and “Let’s Be Cops.” Film entertainment revenues hit $2.47 billion, up from $2.12 billion in the year-ago period, while first quarter operating income of $458 million, represented a 40% increase over the $328 million logged in the prior year quarter.
Its fortunes are dramatically different than many of its other fellow major studios given that the summer box office was mired in its worst slump in more than a decade.
On the television front, Fox has scored a ratings hit with “Gotham,” but is also grappling with the winding down of two tentpole franchises, “American Idol” and “Glee.”
Results for television and cable network programming were negatively impacted by higher costs related to new scripted shows, contracts for sports programming such as new pacts with the National Football League, and deals for the rerun rights to programs such as “The Simpsons” on the FXX channel.
Cable operation revenues jumped 15% to $3.23 billion, while television revenues remained flat at $1.05 billion. Cable operating cash flow climbed 4.7% to $1.04 billion. Broadcast’s ratings and programming issues did cast a shadow, pushing operating income for the group down 24% to $174 million.
On an earnings call with investors Tuesday, 21st Century Fox chief operating officer Chase Carey said the company knew that it “had more work to do” regarding its broadcast programming, but said Fox was pleased the World Series went to seven games and noted that “a couple of hits” can turn around a network’s fortunes.