Books, digital real estate assets lift News Corp results

By Reuters

Feb 05, 2015 09:02 PM EST

News Corp (NWSA.O), owner of the Wall Street Journal and HarperCollins, reported quarterly revenue and a profit just above analysts' consensus forecast as its book publishing and real estate businesses offset dwindling print revenue.

Total revenue for the second quarter increased 2 percent to $2.28 billion, slightly ahead of the forecast of $2.25 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

News Corp's revenue is largely dependent on its newspaper holdings in the United States, Australia and Great Britain. But the company has been making an effort to diversify its business, especially in digital real estate websites, which include the recently acquired U.S. site Move and its stake in Australian REA Group.

Newspapers have been plagued by declines in advertising revenue.

"It is fair to say that the expansion of our digital real estate portfolio should provide a firm foundation for future growth," Chief Executive Robert Thomson said during an earnings call on Thursday.

Revenue at the New York-based company's digital real estate services unit, which includes Move, jumped 50 percent to $154 million.

At HarperCollins, revenue increased 20 percent to $469 million. The book publisher is set to release the highly anticipated novel from "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee, "Go Set a Watchman," on July 14.

Revenue at News Corp's news and information unit fell about 6 percent to $1.52 billion, hurt by lower advertising and subscription sales, including an $11 million revenue shortfall at Dow Jones' enterprise division.

However, at the Wall Street Journal, overall advertising rose 2 percent for both print and digital sales, mainly from technology and finance companies.

Net income available to shareholders fell to $142 million, or 24 cents per share, from $150 million, or 26 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 26 cents per share, ahead of analysts' expectations for 24 cents.

News Corp, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, split from its television, cable and entertainment properties - now under Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O) - in 2013. Murdoch also controls Fox.

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