There are a lot of moving pieces in 21st Century Fox’s report for the last three months of 2014, its fiscal Q2. But off the bat, investors likely will focus on the 20% increase in the company’s dividend which now comes to 30 cents per share – the stock is up 2.4% in initial post-market trading.
As for the basics: With about $5 billion from the November sale of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland to BSkyB, reported net income came in at $6.21 billion from $1.21 billion in the last three months of 2013. Revenues fell 1.3% to $8.06 billion. Still, the top line exceeded Wall Street’s expectations for $7.36 billion. After factoring out one time items, earnings came in at 53 cents per share, well ahead of the 42 cents analysts anticipated.
“We delivered solid quarterly results despite continuing currency headwinds and ratings challenges at the Fox broadcast network,” CEO Rupert Murdoch says. The satellite sales and other transactions “further enhance our ability to drive long-term value for all of our shareholders.”
The cable networks delivered with revenues up 14.2% to $3.38 billion and cash flow up 11.7% to $1.16 billion. Fox says domestic affiliate revenues grew 19% with boosts from its new Fox Sports 1 and the consolidation of the New York Yankees’ YES Network. Domestic ad sales increased 11%. But expenses also were up as the company adjusted to pricey sports licensing agreements.
The broadcast television unit numbers were a bit more complicated as revenues dropped slightly to $1.62 billion while cash flow was up 33% to $290 million. Ad sales fell 3%, which Fox attributes at least in part to lower ratings at the network, offset by gains in political advertising at its TV stations. The Fox network saw its expenses drop following the cancellation of X-Factor, the absence of Glee, and the shift of Major League Baseball Championship games to Fox Sports 1.
Filmed Entertainment also was mixed with improvements in its film releases offsetting weakness in television production. Revenues for the unit were up 11.1% to $2.75 billion but with virtually no change in cash flow at $336 million. The company cites successes with films including The Maze Runner and Gone Girl, but adds that it had fewer TV series with the absence of How I Met Your Mother, White Collar, and Glee.