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News Corp posts 28pc decline in earnings

Business

News Corp’s full-year earnings have dropped about 28 per cent as growth in its real estate classifieds businesses fails to offset declines in news and book publishing.

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Total earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the 12 months to June 30 were $US684 million ($A894 million), down from $US945 million a year earlier.

A 65 per cent decline in EBITDA to $US214 million from a stable of newspapers including The Australian, The Times in Britain, and The New York Post was partly due to the $US280 million cost of settling a long-running class action related to newspaper and in-store promotions in the US.

Excluding that cost, earnings from news and information dropped 18 per cent, or $US109 million, with News Corp citing lower revenue and higher marketing costs in the UK.

Stripping out the impact of negative foreign currency fluctuations and an additional week in the year, advertising revenues declined 7 per cent but circulation and subscription revenues increased 1 per cent.

Earnings from real estate services including REA Group soared 71 per cent, or $143 million, to $US344 million, although that included a one-off gain of $US122 million from a legal case involving rival listings site Zillow.

“Revenue at Digital Real Estate Services … is expected to become the biggest contributor to EBITDA in the future thanks to the ongoing success of REA and the rapid growth at Realtor.com in the US,” chief executive Robert Thomson said.

Book publishing earnings dropped 16 per cent to $US185 million despite the success of titles including Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman, while earnings from cable services including Foxtel declined 8 per cent to $124 million.

News Corp’s numbers

* Total revenue (adjusted) down 3pct to $US8.29b

* EBITDA down 28pct to $US684m

* Final dividend 10 US cents

-AAP

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