News Corp. Misses Estimates as Ad Sales Decline

Compensating for Falling Print Revenue by Boosting Digital Real Estate Business

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News Corp., the Wall Street Journal and New York Post publisher controlled by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, reported fiscal fourth-quarter profit that missed analysts' estimates as a decline in ad sales outweighed an increase in digital revenue in its real estate business.

Earnings, excluding some items, were 10 cents a share, short of analysts' estimates of 13 cents a share, the average of projections compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue was $2.23 billion, the New York-based company said in a statement Monday. That exceeded predictions for $2.06 billion.

As more readers get their news online, News Corp. has been trying to compensate for falling print revenue by boosting digital sales, especially at its online real estate business. At the same time, the company has remained wary of the publishing industry's growing alliance with Facebook.

In June, News Corp. agreed to buy U.K. radio broadcaster Wireless Group Plc for about $295 million to gain media brands including Talksport, which has the digital audio rights for Premier League and FA Cup soccer matches.

Sales at the news unit, which makes up about two-thirds of the company's revenue, climbed 1% to $1.42 billion. Advertising sales, which took a $17 million hit because of foreign currency fluctuations, decreased 5%. The company attributed the decline to weakness in the print advertising market and lower free-standing insert product sales.

Revenue in the company's digital real estate businesses rose 21% in the quarter, helped by growth at its digital-ad business, REA Group and Move, as well as acquisitions of iProperty and Diakrit.

Book publishing sales increased 11% on the strength of "The Nest" by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, "The Rainbow Comes and Goes" by Anderson Cooper and "The World's Worst Children" by David Walliams. The company reported a net income of $89 million in the quarter, or 15 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $379 million, or 65 cents, a year earlier.

Mr. Murdoch split his company in two in June 2013, giving 21st Century Fox the more lucrative entertainment assets and leaving News Corp. with his print properties, which include newspapers and the book publisher HarperCollins.

-- Bloomberg News

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