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Fox earnings beat expectations despite $22-million loss in film and TV division

A lack of box-office hits clouded otherwise healthy financial results for 21st Century Fox in the fourth quarter, which saw strong affiliate and advertising revenue at its cable networks division.

The media conglomerate reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings that exceeded expectations while recording a loss at its filmed entertainment division due in part to lower revenue at its storied movie studio.

Shares of New York-based Fox fell in after-hours trading Wednesday before making up for the drop. The stock had closed the day down about half a percent to $27.90.

Fox reported adjusted earnings per share of 36 cents in the quarter, compared with 45 cents a year ago. That exceeded a forecast of 35 cents per share, according to analysts polled by Factset.

Revenue for the period narrowly missed expectations, coming in at $6.75 billion, up 2% from a year ago, compared with the $6.79 billion expected by analysts.

The company’s filmed entertainment division, which includes its movie and TV studios, swung to a $22-million loss for the quarter, compared with $164 million in operating profit during the same period a year earlier.

For the full fiscal year, operating income for Fox’s filmed entertainment division was $1.05 billion, down $34 million from the prior year. Fox attributed the decline to a foreign-exchange fluctuation, but the company also saw weaker revenue at its film studio.

While its Los Angeles-based studio had recent hits with “Logan” and “Hidden Figures,” it also experienced a box-office disappointment with “Alien: Covenant,” which opened in the U.S. during the quarter and has grossed only $74.2 million domestically.

Fox also said it experienced significant release costs during the period for movies including “War for the Planet of the Apes.” The company also cited lower revenue at both the film and television studios.

Fox said overall revenue for the quarter was driven by higher affiliate and advertising revenue at its cable network programming division. Fox News remains the top-rated cable news network despite facing multiple sexual harassment lawsuits against the channel.

For the full fiscal year, Fox reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.93, up 12% from the year-earlier result of $1.73. Revenue was $28.50 billion, an increase of 4% from the $27.33 billion reported in the prior year.

Fox is still awaiting British approval for its $14-billion bid to take control of Europe’s largest pay-TV company, Sky.

“We remain confident our transaction will be approved, but more likely in the first half of 2018 than before the end of this calendar year,” James Murdoch, chief executive of Fox, said in an investor call on Wednesday.

david.ng@latimes.com

@DavidNgLAT

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UPDATES:

3:30 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from an investor call.

This article was originally published at 2:15 p.m.

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