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Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Posts Fourth Down Quarter in a Row

February 5, 2016

2015 Time 100 Gala2015 Time 100 Gala
Rupert Murdoch attends the 2015 Time 100 Gala in New York City.Photograph by Taylor Hill — Getty Images

News Corp’s revenue fell for the fourth quarter in a row, hurt by a stronger dollar and dwindling advertising revenue in its core news and information business, which includes the Wall Street Journal.

Newspaper and magazine publishers have been under unabated pressure to offset a decline in print advertising dollars by shoring up their digital business to attract advertisers and by boosting subscriptions.

News Corp (NWS), controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, said revenue at its news and information unit declined 8.1% in the second quarter.

The unit, which accounted for about 65% of total revenue, also houses Dow Jones and the New York Post. Here, ad revenue fell 12%, mainly due to weakness in print ads.

The company said digital revenue increased and accounted for a third of total ad revenue at Dow Jones. It did not provide numbers.

“News Corp is a company with a lot of opportunities in front of it and a lot of ways to leverage its assets. This particular quarter shows that’s still a work in process,” said Tony Scherrer, director of research at Smead Capital Management, which owns about 3.9 million shares of News Corp.

News Corp, which split off from Twenty-First Century Fox in 2013, has been diversifying to rely less on its print business.

The company said it expects its fast growing digital real-estate unit, where revenue jumped 35%, to become a core pillar of profitability.

Revenue in its book publishing business, which includes HarperCollins Publishers, fell 5%.

The company sold more printed books in the quarter, but not enough to offset the fall in e-book sales, a softness felt by other publishers also, Chief Executive Robert Thomson said on a conference call.

The company’s total revenue fell 4.3% to $2.16 billion in the quarter. Analysts were expecting revenue of $2.13 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue also took a $141 million hit from foreign currency fluctuations, primarily from a weak Australian dollar.

In Australia, where Murdoch was born, News Corp’s ad revenue declined 26% and the company said it was taking steps to streamline costs at newspapers, which includes the Australian and the Sunday Mail.

News Corp’s net income available to shareholders fell 56% to $62 million. Its adjusted profit of 20 cents per share missed analysts’ estimates of 21 cents.