The Murdoch clan just loves this time of the US election cycle — and it just loves long, long campaigns by ambitious, rambunctious wannabee political aspirants, such as Donald Trump, who has turned out to be the clan’s most valuable asset, and will continue giving over the next three quarters (of course, it will make for a heck of a hangover in 2017 when the election cycle goes to sleep and Fox News revenue and earnings soften).
The March quarter figures for 21st Century Fox confirm once again that 21st Century Fox — the centrepiece in the clan’s global media empire — is a cable news business leading free-to-air TV, cable TV and film studio and associated production operations. The quarterly figures show clearly that it was the combination of Trump, Megyn Kelly (the Fox News anchor who became Trump’s sparring partner), higher subscription fees and the surge in political advertising that produced a very solid overall result for Fox. A solid rebound from its film studio also helped.
Fox reported a net profit of US$841 million, down from US$975 million a year earlier. Net income from continuing operations attributable to shareholders was US$844 million, down from US$990 million in the March quarter of 2015. Revenues for the quarter rose 6% from the March quarter of 2015 to US$7.23 billion, while operating income before depreciation and amortisation rose 12% to US$1.88 billion.
The strength of the US dollar in the quarter (it has since faded in April and May) cost Fox an estimated US$204 million off revenues, or 3% of the total. Fox shares jumped more than 6% in after-hours trading, but they then turned down, ending around half a per cent lower. Up to the close on Wednesday, the shares had fallen more than 20% since the start of the year. The other Murdoch company, News Corp, released its quarterly figures tomorrow morning, Sydney time.
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