There must be something in the September quarter earnings report that troubles investors. Fox’s share price has retreated to + 0.2% post-market after initially jumping 2% — still below the 3% drop during the trading day. That’s interesting because the basic numbers look good: Net income at $1.10 billion fell 13.5% versus the period last year on revenues of $7.89 billion, +11.7%. But the top line figure was a lot bigger than the $6.25 billion that Wall Street anticipated. And earnings at 47 cents per share handily beat forecasts for 36 cents.
“Our strong earnings and revenue growth in the quarter were driven by continued momentum at our Cable Network Programming and Filmed Entertainment segments, reflecting sustained increases in affiliate fees as well as the global box office success of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Fault in Our Stars,” CEO Rupert Murdoch says.
The cable network operation song revenues increase nearly 15% to $3.23 billion with cash flow up 4.7% to $1.04 billion. The bottom line didn’t match the top due to a 21% increase in expenses for new sports channels – including baseball and cricket licensing rights – as well as the consolidation of the New York Yankees’ YES Network. Domestic affiliate revenue was up 18% while ad sales rose 10% due to the inclusion of YES as well as strength at FX and Fox News Channel.
The broadcast television unit struggled, however, with revenues flat at $1.05 billion with cash flow down 24.7% to $174 million. It saw ad revenues fall 5%, mostly from the drop in ratings at Fox while expenses rose from the investment in additional hours of scripted programming, cancellation costs, and higher rates fees for the NFL.
Filmed Entertainment had a good story to tell in the fiscal first quarter with revenues up 16.8% to $2.48 billion in cash flow up 39.6% to $458 million. In addition to Planet of the Apes,the division saw strong results from Maze Runner and home entertainment sales for Rio 2.