News Corp reports record results, set for further earnings growth

MUMBAI: "A record end to a record year. The most profitable fourth quarter ever and the most profitable year in our company's 80 years of existence."

That was how Rupert Murdoch described the record earnings at News Corp Ltd's filmed entertainment, television, cable TV and Harper Collins publishing businesses that have powered the media moghul's company to a 2002/03 fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $370 million, compared with a loss of $1.74 billion last year. Revenues rose 21 per cent, to $4.6 billion from $3.8 billion, last year.

The loss last year was in large part due to the $1.9 billion write-down of its 43 per cent investment in Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc.

'A record end to a record year': Rupert Murdoch (Picture courtesy

Full year net profit stood at $1.05 billion, driven mainly by strong growth in advertising revenues at its television and cable networks.

Aided by programmes like American Idol and Joe Millionaire, the Fox network reversed its lacklustre performance from the previous year and the Fox News Channel's profit nearly doubled with higher ad revenue overcoming increased costs of coverage of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

DVD and video sales of movies including Ice Age and Shallow Hal added to cinema releases of X2: X-Men United, Daredevil, 28 Days Later, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and One Hour Photo to all added to the News Corp kitty.

Asked by reporters if News Corp's latest earnings results were as good as it gets for the company, Murdoch was quoted as saying: "Of course not. We're not going to rest until we are many times this."

That statement was backed up by company CFO David DeVoe who said that News Corp and its Fox Entertainment business were gearing up for another strong result in 2003/04.

"We expect that 2004 operating income growth at News Corporation will be in the range of high single digits to low double digit, which includes absorbing losses from Sky Italia of approximately $300 million," De Voe was quoted as saying.

Speaking about News Corp's $6.6 billion acquisition of satellite television company DirecTV, Murdoch told financial analysts during a conference call that he remained hopeful the transaction would receive necessary regulatory approvals by the end of the year.

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