UPDATE, 3:40 PM: Although the drama in today’s analyst call involved the News Of The World hacking scandal, News Corp execs made a few interesting points about the company’s less sensational business activities. COO Chase Carey says that the Hulu auction is “progressing largely according to plan.” But he left open the possibility that it won’t result in a sale, rhetorically asking “does it make sense to pursue that path or for us to stay in an ownership position?” He and Rupert Murdoch also said that they support the Fox Business Network, claiming it was just an oversight that they didn’t mention it when listing cable channels that are poised to grow. “The ratings are in fact improving,” Murdoch said, adding that “we need more distribution, it’s true.” Still he says Fox Business is breaking even on a cash flow basis. Carey also says that FX has the potential to become a bigger revenue generator. All told, Murdoch says that News Corp operations were “exceptional” in the last quarter providing the company with the “most robust balance sheet in our history.”
PREVIOUS, 1:19 PM: The media giant says that it did well in its fiscal fourth quarter — as long as you don’t count the $245M earnings hit from the MySpace sale. The company had net profits of $683M, down 22% from the period last year, on revenues of $8.96B, up 10.5%. Net earnings came in at 26 cents a share — but if you factor out MySpace they hit 35 cents. Analysts expected 30 cents. The company says that it lost 10 cents a share from its sale of MySpace. Revenues beat the consensus forecast of $8.46B. Cable network revenues rose 14.5% to $2.15B with help from higher fees that cable and satellite operators pay for the channels. Filmed entertainment was up 13.6% to $2.03B with strong results from Rio, Black Swan and The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. Ad sales and retransmission consent revenues helped the broadcast TV unit grow 7% to $1.04B. The company also announced a 26% increase in its dividend to 9.5 cents a share. News Corp shares are down about 1.5% in after-market trading.