For the fourth quarter, overall revenues increased 12% to $6.1 billion. On a dollar basis, net income increased 67% to $717 million, which worked out to $0.22 per diluted share on a combined basis (i.e., combining the A and B shares together) vs. $0.15 per diluted share a year ago. Operating income increased 42% to $955 million.
For the entire year, revenues jumped 15% to $23.8 billion. Net income increased 39% to $2.1 billion, or $0.69 per diluted share, vs. $0.54 per diluted share for the previous fiscal year. Operating income appreciated 22% to $3.6 billion. In addition, free cash flow for the year leaped 21% to $2.47 billion.
As releases go, this one was a blockbuster. News Corp. shareholders must be quite dazzled by all the double-digit increases. Checking the various operating segments also reveals positive year-over-year trends.
The movie business was good for the company this year; that segment's operating income rose 17% to $1.06 billion. Management cited theatrical hits such as Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Mr. and Mrs. Smith as fourth-quarter boosts for the movie unit. For the full year, other drivers included the home video distribution of titles such as Garfield and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (now that movie was a blast) and theatrical releases such as Hide and Seek and Robots. Keep in mind: A media company's movie slate won't always click with audiences, and next year's story could be different.
The television segment, unfortunately, continues its lackluster ways. For the fourth quarter, operating income decreased 2% to $344 million, and for the full year, operating income was essentially flat at $952 million. What's the reason? Well, as in the third quarter, the Fox Broadcasting Company is providing the drag. Advertising revenues may be higher, but licensing is expensive and cutting into margins.
However, the cable operating segment once again proved a great asset. For the full year, operating income expanded by 44%. The Fox News Channel continues to dominate cable news information, and apparently there was a silver lining to the cancellation of the hockey season, as the company cited lower costs at the Regional Sports Networks. Cable operations are important assets for media conglomerates -- just ask Viacom
Murdoch's company is a healthy one right now. I may have sounded a bit bearish in my coverage of the company's third-quarter earnings due to the presence of a restructuring charge -- and I still say that the Fox network must get its house in order in terms of costs -- but this annual report indicates that Murdoch is building quite an empire. Unfortunately, media conglomerates in general find their stocks in the doldrums; that's why Viacom wants to split. I can't say that any of these behemoths are going to break out wildly in the near term -- although Time Warner
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