Television

FY-2015: News & Info services retard News Corp revenue growth to 0.7%

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BENGALURU: A seven per cent drop in revenue in its largest segment – News & Information services dragged News Corporation’s total revenue to just 0.7 per cent growth to $8633 million in the year ended 30 June, 2015 (FY-2015) as compared to $8574 million in FY-2014. During the quarter ended ?30 June, 2015 (Q4-2015), the company’s NIS segment 10 per cent drop in revenues combined with the drop of two per cent from the Cable Programming Segment (CPS) saw News Corp total revenue drop 2.1 per cent to $2141 million as compared to the $2186 million in Q4-2014.

The company explains that the majority of the revenue decline reflects adverse foreign currency fluctuations and lower advertising revenues at the News and Information Services segment, partially offset by growth in the Digital Real Estate Services and Book Publishing segments, primarily as a result of the acquisitions of Move and Harlequin, respectively.

News Corp total EBIDTA however increased 10.6 per cent in the current year to $852 million as compared to the $770 million in FY-2014. YoY, News Corp total EBIDTA improved 50.4 per cent to $191 million in Q4-2015 as compared to the $127 million in Q4-2014. The company says that this increase was primarily driven by lower expenses at the News and Information Services and Digital Education segments, partially offset by adverse foreign currency fluctuations. Adjusted Total Segment EBITDA increased 62 per cent compared to the prior year.

News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said, "Thanks to solid performance across a number of our businesses, including the fast-growing realtor.com, we had a strong fourth quarter finish to a good fiscal year. Despite an uneven global economy, very tough currency headwinds and the ongoing transformation of the media landscape, for fiscal 2015 we posted stable revenues, robust EBITDA growth and healthy free cash flow."

"With disciplined internal investments, strategic acquisitions and ongoing product innovation, we have aggressively shifted the company to be more global and more digital. We have clearly emerged as an international leader in digital real estate, opened up new territories at HarperCollins, expanded digital subscriber penetration at our mastheads and successfully integrated our programmatic exchange, creating new digital and mobile advertising opportunities across News Corp. We have begun to execute on a capital return program that signifies our confidence in the prospects of the company and the efficacy of its long-term strategy. The year ahead will be an opportunity to build on the sound and profitable platform we have collectively created," he added.

Net loss available to News Corp stockholders in FY-2015 was $379 million as compared to net income available to News Corp stockholders of $12 million in FY-2014. Impairment and restructuring charges were $424 million and $21 million in Q4-2015 and Q4-2014 respectively. The impairment and restructuring charges for the three months ended 30 June, 2015 include an impairment charge of $371 million related to Amplify, as discussed above. Adjusted net income available to News Corp stockholders was $38 million compared to $6 million in the prior year.

Segment Results

News & Information Services (NIS)

NIS FY-2015 full revenues decreased by $422 million, or seven per cent, compared to the prior year. Total segment advertising revenues declined 10 per cent, driven primarily by weakness in the print advertising market coupled with the negative impact of foreign currency fluctuations. Circulation and subscription revenues declined four per cent, due to adverse foreign currency fluctuations. Adjusted revenues declined three per cent compared to the prior year.

In FY-2015, NIS segment EBITDA decreased $62 million, or nine per cent, as compared to the prior year. The corporation says that results were impacted by lower advertising revenues, higher legal expenses at News America Marketing of $20 million, negative foreign currency fluctuations and one-time expenses of $11 million related to the termination of a distribution contract in connection with continued cost reduction initiatives, which more than offset lower operating expenses. Adjusted Segment EBITDA decreased six per cent compared to FY-2014.

Revenues for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015 decreased $154 million, or 10 per cent, compared to the prior year, as a result of a 13 per cent decline in advertising revenues and a five per cent decline in circulation revenues, driven by negative foreign currency fluctuations. Adjusted revenues declined two per cent compared to the prior year. Segment EBITDA increased $38 million in the quarter, or 29 per cent, as compared to Q4-2014. The increase was driven by lower operating expenses, partially offset by lower advertising revenues, one-time expenses of $11 million related to the termination of a distribution contract in connection with continued cost reduction initiatives and negative foreign currency fluctuations. Adjusted Segment EBITDA increased 34 per cent compared to the prior year.

Book Publishing

FY-2015 revenues for News Corp Book Publishing segment increased $233 million, or 16 per cent, compared to the prior year driven by the inclusion of Harlequin results and strong backlist sales in the general books category, resulting from the success of American Sniper by Chris Kyle, partially offset by lower revenues from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Digital sales, which consist of revenues generated through the sale of e-books and digital audio books, represented 22 per cent of Consumer revenues for fiscal 2015. Segment EBITDA increased $24 million, or 12 per cent, from the prior year primarily due to the inclusion of the results of Harlequin and lower expenses, partially offset by lower contribution from the Divergent series. Adjusted revenues and Adjusted Segment EBITDA each decreased 2 per cent, compared to the prior year.

Book Publishing Revenues in Q4-2015 increased $29 million, or eight per cent, compared to Q4-2014 driven by the inclusion of Harlequin results, partially offset by lower revenues from the Divergent series. Digital sales represented 23 per cent of Consumer revenues for the quarter. Segment EBITDA was flat from the prior year as the inclusion of results from Harlequin and lower expenses offset lower contribution from the Divergent series.

Digital Real Estate Services (DRES)

FY-2015 revenues increased for the DRES segment to $217 million, or 53 per cent, compared to FY-2014, primarily due to the inclusion of the results of Move, which was acquired in November 2014, coupled with higher revenues at REA Group Limited (REA Group) due to the impact of increased listing depth product penetration and higher pricing, despite a decline in Australian listing volumes across the market and the negative impact of foreign currency fluctuations. Segment EBITDA decreased $13 million, or six per cent, compared to the prior year primarily due to the inclusion of a loss of $39 million related to the acquisition of Move and negative foreign currency fluctuations, partially offset by increased revenues at REA Group. Segment EBITDA includes $21 million of stock-based compensation expense and $19 million of one-time transaction costs, both related to the acquisition of Move. Adjusted revenues and Adjusted Segment EBITDA increased 18 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively, compared to the prior year.

For the full year, Move saw strength in its Connection for Co-Brokerage product and Media revenues. Based on Move’s internal data, average monthly unique users of realtor.com’s web and mobile sites for the fiscal fourth quarter grew 42 per cent year-over-year to approximately 45 million, which was driven by almost 80 per cent growth in mobile users; traffic accelerated in July to 48 million monthly unique users, or 43 per cent growth year-over-year.

Revenues in Q4-2015 increased $76 million, or 67 per cent, compared to Q4-2014 due to the inclusion of the results of Move coupled with higher listing depth product penetration and higher pricing at REA Group. Segment EBITDA in the quarter decreased $17 million, or 27 per cent, compared to the prior year due to certain expenses at Move and the negative impact of foreign currency fluctuations, partially offset by the improvement at REA Group. At Move, strong revenue performance was offset by $7 million of legal expenses and $5 million of stock-based compensation expense related to the acquisition.

Adjusted revenues and Adjusted Segment EBITDA increased 15 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively, compared to the prior year.

Cable Networking Programming (CNP)

CNP’s FY-2015 revenues increased $9 million, or two per cent, compared to the prior year driven by higher affiliate and advertising revenues, partially offset by adverse foreign currency fluctuations. Segment EBITDA increased $7 million, or five per cent, from FY-2014, primarily driven by higher revenues, partially offset by adverse foreign currency fluctuations and higher programming costs. Adjusted revenues and Adjusted Segment EBITDA for FY-2015 increased 11 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, compared to FY-2014.

In Q4-2015, revenues decreased $3 million, or two per cent, compared to Q4-2014, as higher affiliate and advertising revenues were more than offset by negative foreign currency fluctuations. Segment EBITDA in the quarter increased $3 million, or 16 per cent, compared to the prior year. Adjusted revenues increased 15 per cent and Adjusted Segment EBITDA increased 37 per cent, compared to the prior year.

Digital Education

Revenues for the full year increased $21 million, or 24 per cent, compared to the prior year. Segment EBITDA improved $100 million, or 52 per cent, compared to the prior year, primarily due to the impact of the capitalization of Amplify Learning’s software development costs of $53 million, reduced development expenses and increased revenues.

Revenues in Q4-2015 increased $6 million, or 33 per cent, and Segment EBITDA improved $29 million, or 55 per cent.

Others

In FY-2015, Others Segment EBITDA improved by $26 million, primarily due to decreased fees and costs, net of indemnification, related to the claims and investigations arising out of certain conduct at The News of the World (the U K Newspaper Matters”).

The net expense related to the U K Newspaper Matters was $50 million for the full year, as compared to $72 million in the prior year.

Segment EBITDA in the quarter improved by $11 million. The net expense related to the UK Newspaper Matters was $8 million for the three months ended 30 June, 2015, as compared to $16 million in the prior year.

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