News Corp not chasing mergers to compete with Nine-Fairfax powerhouse

News Corp chief backs Foxtel despite subscription revenue fall

"Despite healthy trends across the board for News Corp., sports costs and ongoing investments in its Foxtel cable network segment for a new sports-streaming product may pressure margins through fiscal 2019", Bloomberg Intelligence analysts said in a report Friday.

Under pressure Foxtel has managed to hold onto subscribers with the pay TV operator now undergoing a transformation program under the new management after a $33M revenue drop.

Telstra and News Corp merged Fox Sports, formerly 100 per cent News Corp owned, and joint-venture Foxtel in April.

The Australian news and information division recorded 1% revenue growth while Foxtel was flat for the year, however it reported a 39% EBITDA fall of $69m in the final quarter compared to last year.

Revenue topped $9bn, up 11 per cent, while before tax earnings rose 21 per cent to $1.1bn. The company posted earnings of 8 cents a share, excluding some items, and revenue of $2.69 billion - both topping analysts' estimates.

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"We generated strong revenue and Segment EBITDA growth in the Digital Real Estate Services and Book Publishing segments, which, together with the consolidation of Foxtel, drove over $1 billion in profitability for the year".

News Corporation Australia - which includes The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, Melbourne's Herald Sun and The Australian - reported a 1 per cent increase in revenues on the prior year.

Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corp, described FY18 as a year of "operational and transformational success" for the company.

The growth was partially offset by lower print advertising revenues at the news and information services segment.

"We are seeing strong digital paid subscriber growth across many of our key properties, where digital subscribers now exceed print", CFO Susan Panuccio said on an earnings call August 9.

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"Digital real estate services continue to flourish", Thomson said, pointing to a 19% rise in revenue for the last quarter helped by a strong showing in the Australian business, REA Group.

"HarperCollins' success underscores the importance of intelligent editors and great writers in creating premium content. Algorithms are, as yet, unable to write empathetic, compelling books".

"News Corp is now a more substantial company after the Foxtel transaction, with a much higher percentage of recurring, subscription-based revenues, which should help offset a volatile advertising environment".

Five years ago News Corp underwent a restructure that saw its entertainment assets spun off into a separate company from its publishing businesses, including Harper Collins.

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