Home videos sales for The Maze Runner and Fantastic 4 in the last three months of 2015 couldn’t match late 2014’s X-Men, How To Train Your Dragon and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes — and contributed to a mixed year-end report for Fox.
The company generated $672 million in net income, which isn’t easily comparable to the $6.28 billion from the end of 2014 which included one-time benefits from the sale of the company’s satellite businesses to Sky. Revenues came in at $7.38 billion, down 8.4%.
The Street expected the top line to hit $7.51 billion. Adjusted earnings at 44 cents a share matched the consensus expectation.
“During the quarter, our cable business continued to drive our growth, delivering sustained increases in domestic affiliate fees and gains in advertising revenue, underscoring the power of our global brands and distinctive programming,” executive chairmen Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement. They added that they are “encouraged by progress at the Fox Broadcast Network, which delivered significant advertising gains from both our sports and entertainment programming. At our television production business, we deliberately invested in a higher number of new original series this quarter in support of the network’s new primetime schedule and in creating valuable long-term assets for the Company. We continued with our top priority of delivering standout storytelling and are proud of our industry-leading Academy Award nominations as well as Golden Globe wins across both our film and television businesses.”
Fox shares have lost about 26.7% of their value over the last 12 months as investors became skittish about the prospects for pay TV networks.
In Fox’s fiscal Q2 Cable Networks, the largest operation, saw cash flow (measured by OIBDA) improve 7.9% to $1.25 billion with revenues up 9.4% to $3.70 billion. Domestic pay TV distributors paid 10% more for networks including FS1 and Fox News while ad sales improved 3% with help from strong ratings from NBA games. But expenses also were up from sports licenses and the consolidation of National Geographic Partners.
At the television unit, which includes the Fox network, cash flow fell 3.8% to $279 million on revenues of $1.72 billion, up 5.7%. It benefited from rising pay TV retransmission consent payments as well as a 4% improvement in ad sales. That was mostly driven by low double digit group in sales at Fox, which saw viewing increase for its NFL games and primetime shows led by Empire.
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Filmed Entertainment stood out with cash flow falling 10.1% to $302 million on revenues of $2.36 billion, down 14.2%. The company says the downturn is “primarily” due to the drop in home video sales as well as “the adverse impact of the strengthened U.S. dollar” against weakening foreign currencies. The currency changes reduced cash flow by about 14%, the company says.
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