LOS ANGELES (AP) — Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. on Wednesday reported third-quarter earnings that topped analyst expectations as revenue grew thanks to higher advertising sales and a popular Super Bowl.
But its profits were tempered by higher expenses due to the launch of new channels including Fox Sports 1.
The media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch maintained its forecast that its annual operating profits through June will expand in the mid-to-high single digit percentages from a year ago.
It also stuck to a target of reaching $9 billion in operating profits in the year through June 2016 — 44 percent higher than in the year to June 2013.
The adherence to the earnings target was a relief to investors after suffering a downgrade from the company three months ago based on weak performance at its movie studio and poor ratings for broadcast TV shows like "The X Factor" and "American Idol."
Barton Crockett, an analyst with FBR Capital Markets, said the steadfast outlook came despite negative foreign currency impacts and unexpected audience weakness.
"They're getting a big stack of issues they didn't plan for and just managing right through them," he said. "What they have is just such an ability to get paid more money by cable and satellite TV companies."
On a conference call with analysts, Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey acknowledged that "Idol" did not attract the following the company anticipated on the Fox network. But he promised that a "unique and edgy" lineup of new and returning shows would be unveiled at a presentation for advertisers on Monday.
Fox has "a proven history of surprising audiences with shows that redefine the TV viewing experience," Carey said. "None of that has changed."
The company said net income in the quarter through March fell 63 percent to $1.05 billion, or 47 cents per share, from $2.85 billion, or $1.22 per share, a year earlier.
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