News Corp makes $1.6bn loss after $2.9bn publishing writedown

News Corporation made a loss, before income taxes, of $1.60bn (£1.02bn) in the three months to 30 June after taking an impairment charge of $2.90bn on its publishing assets, which includes its UK newspapers.

Rupert Murdoch: chairman and chief executive, News Corporation
Rupert Murdoch: chairman and chief executive, News Corporation

According to News Corp’s results, the group made a loss from continuing operations before income tax expense of $1.64bn in the second quarter of 2012, down from $1.35bn in the same period in 2011.

The publishing segment, which includes publisher Harper Collins and the newspapers, reported revenues of $2.02bn in the three months to the end of June 2012, down 13.9% year on year, and operating income of $139m, down 48.5% year on year.

Across the year to 30 June 2012 News Corporation's publishing segment reported revenues of $8.25bn, down 6.5% year on year.

The publishing division reported operating income of $597m in the 12 months to 30 June 2012, down 30.9% from the previous year when News Corp paid out a $125m legal settlement related to its marketing services firm News America Marketing.

News Corp said excluding the legal settlement in the year to the end of June 2011, its publishing division’s operating income declined 39.6% driven by ad declines at the Australian newspapers, integrated marketing services business and U.K. newspapers as well as the absence of The News of the World.

However, News Corp said the decline elsewhere in the publishing segment was "partially offset" by improved contributions from Dow Jones, driven by higher profits at the Wall Street Journal.

In June News Corporation announced plans to separate its publishing business from its media and entertainment arm. The separation should complete in around a year depending on approval from the board, shareholders, tax jurisdictions and regulators.

In its results News Corp said given the separation depends on a number of factors there can be "no assurances given that the separation of the company's businesses as described will occur".

In the 12 months ended 30 June 2012 News Corp reported group income from continuing operations before income tax expense of $2.21bn, down a massive 47.0% from the 12 months to 30 June 2011.

Global revenues in the three months ended 30 June were $8.37bn, down 6.6% year on year, while in the 12 months to the end of June 2012 revenues were $33.71bn, up 0.9% year on year.

The growth in revenues was driven by improvements in nearly all of the company’s segments including cable network programming and filmed entertainment, which were partially offset by decreases in the publishing arm.

The full year results include a £224m charge relating to the alleged hacking at the News of the World (which is included in News Corp’s "other" business segment). Excluding that and the settlement at News America Marketing the group’s total operating income was $5.60bn, up 13% year on year.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive, said: "We find ourselves in the middle of great change, driven by shifts in technology, consumer behaviour, advertiser demands and economic uncertainty and change brings about great opportunity.

"News Corporation is in a strong operational, strategic and financial position, which should only be enhanced by the proposed separation of the media and entertainment and publishing businesses."

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