Fox tops Wall Street estimates as NFL, politics boost ad sales

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News Corp. signage displayed outside Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. headquarters in New York
News Corp. signage displayed outside Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. headquarters in New York Credit: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

21st Century Fox Inc. reported profit that beat analysts' estimates, benefiting from political ads and the sports programming that will underpin Rupert Murdoch's media company after the sale of its entertainment assets to Walt Disney Co.

Second-quarter profit excluding some items totaled 37 cents a share in the period ended Dec. 31, beating the 32-cent average estimate. Sales rose 5.7 percent, meeting Wall Street projections.

The Fox TV unit suffered a loss due to costs for "Thursday Night Football." But the NFL delivered double-digit ad growth, and Fox was also buoyed by political spots in the U.S. The Fox network and local stations will be a big part of the company after Disney buys most of its entertainment assets. Sports will also play a major role, with the Murdoch's media company investing $3 billion in football, baseball and other athletic programming.

Political advertising from the midterm elections led to a strong quarter for Fox News and the domestic cable segment, which were also bolstered by strong affiliate fee growth.

Profit at the film division, soon to be part of Disney, grew on the strength of new releases like the Oscar-nominated "Bohemian Rhapsody," about Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury.

Fox's net income for the quarter soared to $10.8 billion, reflecting profit from the sale of the company's stake in Sky Plc to Comcast Corp. Revenue for the quarter increased to $8.50 billion, thanks to football and political advertising.

~Bloomberg News

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