Rupert Murdoch's empire is thriving. News Corp.
That might be an exaggeration, but the numbers were still relatively good for a large conglomerate. For the fourth quarter, revenues advanced 11% to $6.8 billion. Operating income jumped 7.6% to $1 billion. Net income from continuing operations was flat at $0.7 billion, or $0.23 per diluted share on a combined basis.
For fiscal 2006, revenues increased 6% to $25.3 billion. Operating income moved up 8.5% to $3.9 billion. Net income from continuing operations appreciated 32% to $2.8 billion, or $0.87 per diluted share on a combined basis. For those keeping score, Stephen Ellis noted a significant pre-tax gain back in the third quarter.
Operating income for filmed entertainment increased 83.5% in the quarter and 3% for the year, driven in part by X-Men: The Last Stand and Ice Age: The Meltdown. The company's television operations saw income jump 17.2% during the quarter and 8.4% for the year, aided by improved ratings at the Fox network. Income at cable networks pushed forward 41.6% for the quarter and 23% for the year, with strength coming from assets such as Fox News Channel and FX. As a counterbalance, magazines, newspapers, and books reported much weaker performances, showing declines and/or wider losses in some cases.
All of these results translated to a decent cash-flow scenario. Net cash from operations for the past twelve months didn't change much, coming in at $3.3 billion, a slight decline compared to last year. But despite increased share repurchases and acquisitions, the company still retains a strong cash balance of $5.8 billion.
Keep in mind that Murdoch has a grand vision of the future that is being supported in part by these investments. He wants to maximize the earnings power of his content by utilizing the latest technological platforms. That's a popular strategy, of course, since other media behemoths like Disney
If you believe that Murdoch knows what he's doing, and that his empire will eventually reap the fruits of its investments, you might want to do some further investigation. I think the numbers show a healthy conglomerate that is appropriately building out for future growth. The assets certainly have potential, since people will always seek compelling entertainment, and they will do so from many different future platforms. News Corp. could definitely represent the media sector in a diversified portfolio.
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