News Corporation took a 22 per cent hit to its quarter profits on the losses caused by the sale of MySpace. The effect of the closure of the News of the World won’t be seen until the next reporting period but, as today’s numbers make clear, newspapers don’t make a significant contribution to the whole.
It also signalled a change of investment strategy, forswearing the multibillion-dollar acquisitions of the past that have made its investors nervous and saying it would instead focus on returning cash to investors through share buy-backs and dividends.
It said it would begin a previously announced $5 billion buy-back programme next week, and that it hoped to complete that plan within 12 months. It was going ahead with a more aggressive buy-back plan because it was no longer saving cash for the $12 billion acquisition of the 61 per cent of British Sky Broadcasting it does not already own,
David DeVoe, News Corp chief financial officer, said the company had no plans to try to bid for BSkyB again. “We’re not stockpiling,” he said.
On the other big question of the day the answer was emphatic: “The board and I believe I should continue in my current role as chairman and CEO,” said Rupert Murdoch. “Make no mistake, Chase Carey (COO) and I run this company as a team, and the strength of that partnership is reflected in our improved results,” he said.
Overall News Corporation revenues rose 11 per cent to $9 billion on the quarter to June 30.
The main strengths were in the recovering US TV advertising revenue set against MySpace and declining DVD sales for Fox Studios.