Strong box office drives profit  at News Corp.

/ Source: The Associated Press

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. media conglomerate on Wednesday reported a 6.2 percent profit rise for its latest quarter on higher earnings from movies including "Night at the Museum" and growth in cable TV networks.

News Corp., which owns Twentieth Century Fox, the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel, newspapers in the U.K. and Australia and MySpace, earned $871 million in its third fiscal quarter ended March 31, up from $820 million in the same period a year ago.

The earnings were equivalent to 27 cents per share, in line with the estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial, and up from 26 cents per share a year ago.

Revenue rose 21.5 percent to $7.5 billion from $6.2 billion in the same period a year ago.

News Corp. has made an unsolicited bid to buy Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Barron's and other publications, for $5 billion, but Dow Jones' controlling shareholders said last week they would reject the bid.

By far the largest contributor to earnings and revenue growth was movie and television production, where profits jumped 82 percent to $410 million from $225 million.

The company cited strong box office performance of "Night at the Museum" as well as home video earnings from "Borat," "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Little Miss Sunshine."

Television earnings fell 4.5 percent as higher revenues from the Fox network were offset by lower earnings from Star, an Asian satellite TV broadcaster, and losses from the first year of MyNetworkTV, a mini-network the company started on part of its own TV station group following the shutdown of UPN.

Cable network programming earnings rose 34 percent on higher returns from Fox News Channel, the FX network and regional sports networks.