News Corp. Revenue Falls in Inaugural Quarter as Ads Decline

News Corp., the publisher of newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Post, reported a 2.8 percent decline in first-quarter revenue, hurt by shrinking demand for print advertising.

Sales fell to $2.07 billion in the period, which ended on Sept. 30, down from $2.13 billion a year earlier, the New York-based company said in a statement yesterday. Analysts had estimated $2.18 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The news division, which owns papers in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, saw revenue fall 10 percent to $1.5 billion in the period, with Australia accounting for most of the decline. Advertising dropped 12 percent, while sales from circulation and subscription fell 6 percent. The company has been trying to spur growth with digital subscribers and new services such as Dow Jones’s DJX aimed at professional and corporate customers.

“We are even more convinced the company will thrive as the company becomes more digital,” Chief Executive Officer Robert Thomson said on a conference call yesterday following the earnings report.

News Corp., controlled by Chairman Rupert Murdoch, split off from 21st Century Fox Inc. at the end of June, creating a new business focused mostly on publishing. In addition to owning newspapers such as the U.K.’s Times, News Corp. held on to an Australian TV business, which includes a 50 percent stake in pay-TV company Foxtel. Publishing accounts for more than 70 percent of News Corp.’s revenue.

Shares Decline

News Corp. shares fell 1.6 percent to $17.15 at the close in New York. The stock has gained 8.5 percent this year.

Excluding some items, including $40 million in costs related to a hacking scandal at its U.K. newspapers, profit was 3 cents a share. That was just above the 2 cents analysts had estimated.

When Murdoch split News Corp. from 21st Century Fox -- a more lucrative business focused on TV and film -- he provided the publisher with $2.6 billion in cash. News Corp. also has said it will pay a dividend at some point in the future, without specifying the date or the amount.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with News Corp. in providing financial news and services.

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