News Corp Reports Profit on Book, Real Estate Growth

News Corp’s small-but-growing digital real-estate business reported a 21% gain in revenue to $  229 million. ENLARGE
News Corp’s small-but-growing digital real-estate business reported a 21% gain in revenue to $ 229 million. Photo: evin Hagen/Getty Images

News Corp NWSA 0.08 % swung to a profit in the June quarter, helped by a legal settlement, as the book and digital real estate units posted growth and newspaper advertising revenue remained weak.

The company—which publishes The Wall Street Journal as well as other newspapers in the U.K., Australia and the U. S.—reported net income of $ 89 million, or 15 cents a share, compared with a loss of $ 379 million, or 65 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose 5% to $ 2.2 billion.

The latest quarter’s results included a $ 122 million gain in the real estate unit from the settlement of a trade-secret theft lawsuit with Zillow Group. Z 0.21 % When it announced the settlement in June, Zillow said the parties reached an “amicable resolution” and that the agreement didn’t contain any admission of liability, wrongdoing or responsibility.

Factoring out the settlement, restructuring charges and other special items, adjusted per-share earnings were 10 cents in the fourth quarter, up from 8 cents a year ago.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected total revenue of $ 2.06 billion in the quarter and adjusted earnings of 13 cents a share.

The news and information services segment, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of News Corp’s total revenue, reported a 1% gain in sales to $ 1.42 billion. Advertising revenue fell 5% in the unit.

Excluding the impact of foreign currency fluctuations and an additional week in the quarter, ad revenue fell 7%, an improvement from double-digit percentage declines in previous quarters.

“While global print ad trends remain challenging at our news and information services segment, we are continuing our aggressive growth in digital, which now accounts for 23% of segment revenues, up from 19% last year,” News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson said in prepared remarks.

News Corp Chief Financial Officer Bedi Singh said in a call with analysts that domestic advertising revenue at the Journal fell 12% in the quarter year-over-year, “with declines in print partially offset by modest growth in digital.”

At the same time, he said circulation revenue rose 5% on the year. At the Journal, digital subscribers rose to 948,000 from 893,000 at the end of the prior quarter. Total head count at Dow Jones—which includes the Journal—was 6% lower at the end of the quarter than the year before, and “further cost reduction programs” were expected to be implemented, Mr. Singh said. Overall advertising revenue in the news and information segment was buoyed by strong sales in the company’s in-store advertising and advertising insert business.

Revenue in News Corp’s book publishing segment rose 11% to $ 433 million because of strong sales 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.

Meanwhile, the small-but-growing digital real-estate business reported a 21% gain in revenue to $ 229 million.

Write to Lukas I. Alpert at lukas.alpert@wsj.com


WSJ.com: US Business

About The Author