21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOX)(NASDAQ:FOXA) released its second-quarter results after Wednesday's market close. The multimedia company delivered bottom-line results that were significantly better than analyst expectations, but shares fell roughly 5% in after hours trading.
For the quarter ending Dec. 31, Fox recorded adjusted revenue of $7.42, a roughly 10% year-over-year increase.
|Metric||Average Analyst Estimate||Actual Result|
|Adjusted Revenue||$7.36 billion||$7.42 billion|
Fox's quarterly revenue came in 0.8% higher than expectations. Adjusted earnings for the period were roughly 26.2% higher than the average analyst estimate and represented a year-over-year increase of roughly 60.6%. Income from continuing operations came in at $2.89 per share, up from $0.43 in Q2 2014.
Cable Network Programming, the company's largest segment, grew roughly 14% year over year on strong advertising sales. However, segment expenses also grew 16%. Performance for the company's film slate was also better than anticipated, growing roughly 11% from the prior year.
What does the future hold for Fox?
Fox's Filmed Entertainment and Cable Network Programming segments have been the growth drivers in the current fiscal year, while its Television segment has stagnated somewhat. Television OIBDA did manage to grow 33% year over year, but this movement stems primarily from reductions in expenses that may not be sustainable if revenue is to see significant growth.
The company's Cable Network division has benefited from growth in affiliate revenues and advertising sales. Fox has seen strong performance from affiliate revenues both domestically and internationally, thanks to increasing rates for key channels such as FX and Fox News, and the segment has also been bolstered by relatively new channels such as FS1 and FXX. Domestic affiliate revenue grew 19% year over year, while domestic advertising revenue grew 11%year over year. Compared with corresponding period in the previous year, OIBDA for Fox's domestic and international channels was up 13% and 8%, respectively. Whether the company can continue to increase prices for affiliates and drive interest in its younger networks looks to be a significant factor in the company's stock movement over the long term.
On the advertising side of the Cable Network segment, Fox's regional sports networks have been growth drivers internationally. It's likely that Fox will be able to continue solid advertising growth from its RSNs in the short term, but the company could face increasing competition down the line. Currency fluctuations are also likely to negatively impact U.S. dollar EBITDA for the remainder of fiscal 2015, but the company's network and programming strength may give long-term investors reason to be less concerned about turbulence from international exchange rates. In Fox's favor: The company has secured U.S. broadcasting rights for the next two World Cups, FX programming is performing well, and Fox News has posted record ratings in the current fiscal year.
With regard to the company's Filmed Entertainment segment, the 11% year-over-year revenue growth came thanks to solid performances from The Maze Runner and Gone Girl. Taking a broader vantage, Fox has delivered some significant franchise building wins within the past year that should create future benefits. X-Men: Days of Future Past was a hit over the summer and looks to have reenergized the broader franchise. The film was one of Fox's most important releases in years, and its success has improved the prospects for future sequels and spin-offs.
The company doesn't have the same breadth of superhero licenses as competitors Disney and Time Warner, so the successful return of Fox's most important comic book property is a positive indicator for the future of the company's film wing. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also proved the viability of Apes as an ongoing franchise, September's The Maze Runner performed well enough to justify a series, and Fox-distributed How to Train Your Dragon 2 did well on home video despite underperforming at the box office. Disney and Time Warner still have stronger film franchises, but Fox has delivered on crucial projects and made some notable gains.