Earnings: Light for some nets at end of Q3

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TV advertising demand helped the parent companies of the ABC, Fox and Univision networks report stronger bottom lines in the third quarter and project improved outlooks for next year.

Univision Communications Exec VP Andrew Hobson said he is "cautiously optimistic" as his company's revenue growth accelerates in the fourth quarter. Univision reported $269.8 million in third quarter revenue, a 22% year-over-year increase. Net income grew by 128% to $20.3 million from $8.9 million in 2001.

Fox parent News Corp. posted a 95% increase in net income to $162 million. Total revenue rose 12.1% to $3.81 billion, with television revenue up 29.3%, cable revenue up 21.3% and newspapers up 6.5%. Filmed entertainment-including the Twentieth Century Fox studio-was down 6% and magazine revenue was flat.


Fox is experiencing strong advertising momentum, especially in the automotive category, said Chief Financial Officer David Devoe. He added all News Corp. divisions are projecting growth in the 2003 fiscal year begun July 1, thanks to stronger advertising. President Peter Chernin noted TV ad sales are pacing up 13% percent in November and 21% in December.

ABC and ESPN parent Walt Disney Co. reported revenue for the quarter rose 15.1% to $6.66 billion, and net income rose to $222 million, from $53 million in the year-ago period. After factoring out accounting changes, the acquisition of the Fox Family Channel and the shutdown of its Go.com Internet unit, net income rose 18.1%.

The advertising environment is still uncertain, but Disney is projecting improved results for this fiscal year, said Chief Financial Officer Thomas Staggs. ABC is reporting strong scatter pricing in the current and next quarter, and advertisers have kept about 90% of upfront options for the second fiscal quarter starting Jan. 1, said Robert Iger, president-chief operating officer.

contributing: laurel wentz

Fast Facts

Companies reporting earnings this week:

Nov. 13: Interpublic Group of Cos., Publicis Groupe, Lamar Advertising Co.

Nov. 14: XM Satellite Radio, Gemstar-TV Guide International

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