News Corp posts surprise profit as HarperCollins earnings grow

May 10, 2019 10:52
News Corp has been focusing on its book publishing and digital businesses in a bid to offset declines in print advertising. Photo: AFP

Wall Street Journal-owner News Corp reported a surprise quarterly profit, driven by strong growth in earnings at its book publishing and subscription video services units, Reuters reports.

Trying to offset declines in print advertising, News Corp has been focusing on its book publishing business, which includes the famous HarperCollins brand, and its digital businesses.

“News Corp reaped rewards from our digital strategy this quarter, underscored by a robust rise in digital subscriptions across our media properties, a sharp increase in digital audio book sales,” chief executive Robert Thomson said.

The company, controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, said HarperCollins’ core earnings rose 29 percent in the quarter, helped by strong sales of audio books and new releases such as Fing by David Walliams.

Revenue from book publishing rose about 6 percent to US$421 million, and the segment’s earnings before interest, tax, amortization and depreciation jumped 29 percent to US$53 million.

Analysts’ were expecting revenue of US$414 million from the unit, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The New Foxtel, part of subscription video services division, reported an 80 percent rise in paying subscribers to 714,000, since the beginning of 2019, News Corp said.

Net income available to stockholders was US$10 million, or 2 cents per share, in the three months ended March 31, compared with a loss of US$1.13 billion, or US$1.94 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company reported a profit of 4 cents per share, while analysts on average expected it to breakeven on a slight net loss.

The company said revenue rose to US$2.46 billion from US$2.09 billion.

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