Murdoch Firm's Profit Up Despite Lower U.S. Net

From Reuters

Rupert Murdoch's multinational media group News Corp., which has increased its profit for each of the last six years, posted a 24% jump in earnings at the half-year mark, although profit from U.S. operations fell.

The group reported Tuesday that after-tax profit climbed to the equivalent of $163 million U.S. in the first six months ended Dec. 31 from $132 million a year earlier. Worldwide revenue rose 13% to $2.14 billion.

It said the increase was mainly due to strong profit from multimillion-dollar acquisitions in Australia and Hong Kong last year and increased earnings from British newspapers.

Foreign Exchange Profit

Although U.S. operations were again the largest single contributor to earnings, operating profit fell by 18% in the latest six months. In the year-earlier period, the company's U.S. profit was unusually high because subsidiary 20th Century Fox had two smash hit film releases.

The lower results in the current fiscal year were also attributed to the group's seven U.S. television stations not doing as well as expected and because the newspaper division was disappointing, particularly the New York Post, which was recently sold.

Profit on the group's foreign exchange trading, a sideline for the world's largest media group, also made a healthy contribution to the interim results.

Profit in Australia and Hong Kong nearly trebled, largely reflecting the takeover of the giant Herald and Weekly Times group in Australia and of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, the company said.

Profit in Britain, where the group's papers range from the brash tabloid Sun to the Times, rose 25% as growth in the newspaper division continued.

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