News Corp ends year with strong fourth quarter

News Corp

“Over the past year, we made clear progress on our primary goals – to become more digital and more global”

Robert Thomson

• Revenues of US$2.2 billion increased 5% compared to $2.1b in the prior year
• Digital Real Estate Services segment revenue grew 21% compared to the prior year
• Digital revenues represented 23% of News and Information Services segment revenues, compared to 19% in the prior year

News Corp has reported financial results for the three months and fiscal year ended 30 June 2016 (includes 14 and 53 weeks, respectively, compared to 13 and 52 weeks in the three months and fiscal year ended 30 June 2015, respectively).

Commenting on the results, chief executive Robert Thomson said:

“We ended fiscal year 2016 with strong results in the fourth quarter, highlighted by robust year-over-year growth in revenues and EBITDA at Digital Real Estate Services and an upturn at HarperCollins.

“Over the past year, we made clear progress on our primary goals – to become more digital and more global. Since the advent of the new News three years ago, revenue at Digital Real Estate Services has more than doubled, and it is expected to become the biggest contributor to EBITDA in the future thanks to the ongoing success of REA and the rapid growth at in the US.

“Book Publishing ended the year strongly, highlighting our ability to leverage quality content across both print and digital platforms.

“While global print ad trends remain challenging at our News and Information Services segment, we are continuing our aggressive growth in digital, which now accounts for 23% of segment revenues, up from 19% last year.

“The success of The Wall Street Journal is a testament to the importance of high-quality content with global appeal. This past quarter The WSJ reached 948,000 digital-only subscribers, posting healthy year-over-year gains with improved pricing to better reflect its unique value.

“At News UK, The Times and The Sunday Times continue to impress with nearly 182,500 digital-only subscribers. Digital subscriptions continue to grow and now account for approximately 45% of the subscriber base, while print sales have also risen tangibly in recent months. This quarter we relaunchedThe Sun’s website, which had over 42 million global unique users in June, a distinctive increase since the lifting of the paywall last year. The UK team is focused on leveraging our immensely valuable UK brands, which is part of the logic behind our offer for Wireless Group.

“At News Australia, The Australian continues to post higher paid volume, thanks to digital.

“With the advertising marketplace in upheaval and, rightly under increased scrutiny, we believe the need for trusted content and premium audiences will only increase. We are confident that News Corp’s unique portfolio and global distribution, combined with our focus on cost efficiencies, mean we are uniquely positioned to capitalise on broader social and commercial trends, and drive long-term value for investors.”

Making additional comments on the investor call this morning, Thomson highlighted strong results at Fox Sports Australia with record ratings which he said indicated the power of live sports. When asked about the split of ad revenue to subscription revenue, News Corp said Fox Sports gets 20% of revenue from advertising.

Thomson said Foxtel now has over 2.9m subscriptions, but churn was up to 14%, due partly to the non-renewal of lower-priced contracts. Foxtel revenue was up 2%.

The average return per user (ARPU) at Foxtel for the quarter was $89.

Thomson also made reference to increased Presto subscriptions, but didn’t give a number.

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