News Corp Revenue Boosted by Digital Real Estate Unit

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News Corp


NWS -2.76%

reported a 3% rise in revenue for the December quarter, led by continued growth in its digital real-estate unit, while weakness in the advertising business weighed on the news and information-services segment.

For the quarter, the company reported a net loss of $84 million, or 14 cents a share, compared with a loss of $290 million, or 50 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier, when results were affected by a significant impairment charge and asset write-down.

The latest results were affected by higher tax expenses related to the new U.S. tax law. Excluding the impact of those charges, the company recorded adjusted earnings of 24 cents a share.

The results surpassed estimates from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who had forecast adjusted earnings of 19 cents a share on $2.13 billion in revenue.

News Corp, which publishes The Wall Street Journal, New York Post and major newspapers in the U.K. and Australia, reported revenue of $2.18 billion for its fiscal second quarter.

Revenue at the news and information-services business, which accounts for just under two-thirds of the company’s top line, was flat compared with the same period the year before at $1.3 billion. Advertising revenue for the entire news unit ended the quarter down 6%, while circulation and subscription revenue grew by the same amount.

The ad results reflected print advertising weakness—with particularly sharp declines at News America Marketing, its newspaper ad-insert and in-store ad business—as well as the decision to end the Journal’s international print editions.

The company said the Journal recorded percentage declines in advertising revenue in the midteens, with the closure of the foreign editions contributing 4% of the total slide.

The circulation revenue gains were largely the result of a 10% increase at Dow Jones, publisher of the Journal, which added 71,000 new digital subscribers in the quarter. At the end of December, the paper had about 1.4 million digital subscribers.

“The bot-infested badlands are hardly a safe space for advertisers, whose brands are being tainted by association with the extreme, the violent and the repulsive,” News Corp Chief Executive

Robert Thomson

said in a statement.

He was referring to risks the brands face when advertising alongside offensive material or on sites and services whose traffic is artificially boosted by computer programs called bots.

“The potential returns for our journalism would be far higher in a less-chaotic, less-debased digital environment,” he added

The digital real-estate business reported a 21% gain in revenue to $120 million. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 25% in the division.

Revenue in News Corp’s book-publishing segment rose 1% to $469 million, driven by strong sales of Ree Drummond’s “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It!” and David Walliams’s “Bad Dad,” and positive foreign currency fluctuations.

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

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