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Fox beats forecasts

21st Century Fox has reported better-than-expected Q4 earnings and a new $5 billion (4.6bn) stock-buyback programme following the media giant’s recent leadership transition.

In July, Rupert Murdoch stepped down as chief executive of Fox, handing the title to his son James. The moves formalised a transition that put Murdoch’s children at the helm of the company.

In the latest quarter, Fox’s earnings were boosted by its cable networks and a gain on its sale of satellite businesses, but total revenue declined due to declines in the filmed entertainment segment and the sale of the satellite businesses.

Revenue for cable network programming grew to $3.57 billion from $3.35 billion a year earlier. However, TV revenue dropped to $987 million from $1.03 billion, and revenue from filmed entertainment declined to $1.91 billion from $2.8 billion.

The company said its new $5 billion buyback programme will be completed over the next 12 months. During the fourth quarter, Fox repurchased 34 million Class A shares for $1.16 billion, bringing the total fiscal year repurchase to 172 million Class A shares for $5.94 billion.

Overall, for the fourth quarter, the company posted a profit of $87 million, down from $999 million, a year earlier. Total revenue fell to $6.21 billion from $8.42 billion a year ago.

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