21st Century Fox Beats Earnings Estimates

Earnings at 21st Century Fox beat Wall Street’s projections, even as the media giant’s revenue failed to match predictions.

The company’s earnings per share of $0.39 bested consensus estimates of $0.37. Quarterly revenue topped out at $6.21 billion for the three months ending in June, falling short of the $6.46 billion that analysts had expected. Shares of the company briefly rose in after-hours trading before falling again. Fox’s stock closed Wednesday down 6.71% at $31.16.

Just as Disney and Time Warner — two other media companies that reported earnings on Tuesday and Wednesday — saw profits clipped by a stronger U.S. dollar, Fox said its various divisions were negatively impacted by currency fluctuations. Shares in all of these companies are taking a hit amid investor concern that the pay TV bundle is fraying as consumers abandon cable for streaming services and providers are less inclined to pay big prices for the rebroadcasting rights for a grab bag of channels.

Revenue at the company behind Fox News, Fox Broadcasting and 20th Century Fox studio was down more than $2 billion from the year-ago period. Fox attributed the shortfall to the 2014 sale of its its pay-TV business in Italy and Germany to British Sky Broadcasting Group. Excluding those businesses, revenues decreased by $635 million.

Fox’s cable arm saw operating income increase 1% to $1.22 billion on higher affiliate and advertising revenues, although higher costs associated with snagging rights to the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the U.S. Open Golf Championship cut into earnings. The investments were worth it, Fox stressed, noting that the highly publicized events “raised the profile of its sports networks.”

The company’s film division couldn’t keep pace with the year-ago period, as films like “Spy” and “Poltergeist” failed to match previous hits such as “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Rio 2.” Operating income topped out at $269 million, down $70 million from the $339 million the company reported last year.

Its television business saw quarterly income fall by $32 million, finishing up at $113 million due to lower advertising revenues as programs like “American Idol” and “The Following” suffered declining viewership.

Fox declared a dividend of $0.15 that is payable on October 14.

Its earnings call Wednesday will be closely monitored because it is the first one since Rupert Murdoch instituted a generational shakeup in Fox’s management ranks. As part of the shift, James Murdoch took over the CEO reins while Lachlan Murdoch was named executive co-chairman alongside his father.

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