Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has almost doubled its profits in 2021/22 to a record $US760 million ($1.1 billion).
The US-listed company owns News Corp Australia, as well as numerous mastheads in the US and Britain, alongside book publisher HarperCollins and a majority stake in real estate advertising company REA Group.
Net income increased 95 per cent on the previous year, while revenue for the year ended June 2022 reached another record at $US10.4 billion, an increase of 11 per cent.
The unprecedented result was driven by the company’s news media division, where profits more than tripled to $US217 million through digital advertising revenue expansion and record digital subscriber numbers.
“The overuse of superlatives really is unbecoming,” chief executive Robert Thomson said on a call to investors.
“But the past quarter and the full year have created so many unprecedented records that reflect well on all of News Corp and we believe have created a platform for future performance and enduring returns.”
In an ebullient presentation, the company said it had enjoyed seven years of uninterrupted double-digit growth, the result of acquisitions and digital transformation.
In the most recent quarter, overall revenues were up 7 per cent to $US2.67 billion, while net income was back in the black at $US127 million, compared to a net loss in the fourth quarter the previous year.
Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, had the highest revenue since its acquisition by News Corp in 2007, driven by record advertising and growing digital-only subscriptions.
Fourth-quarter profitability at Dow Jones soared 54 per cent to $US106 million, leading to a 30 per cent increase for the year to $US433 million.
The New York Post also turned a profit for possibly the first time since Alexander Hamilton founded the paper in 1801, Mr Thomson said.
The company’s US media assets were the single largest contributor to its improved profits, he told investors, with the company overall becoming more dependent on recurring and circulation-based revenue and less reliant on advertising dollars.
Mr Thomson flagged further increases in top line revenue growth in 2022/23 despite predicted modest growth in capital expenditure, macro economic uncertainty and foreign exchange volatility.
He predicted persistent supply chain and inflationary pressures, notably in freight and manufacturing at HarperCollins, as well as news printing costs and wage inflation, but said he was confident News Corp could continue to cut costs.
In the book publishing division, the acquisition of HMH books and media was one factor behind revenues climbing 10 per cent, with consumer spending above pre-pandemic levels.
Mr Thomson predicted the HMH backlist, which includes J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, should pay dividends with the upcoming release of the Rings of Power series on Amazon Prime.
But the popular pandemic series Bridgerton was a blemish on its results sheet, with lower sales of the bodice-ripper resulting in a $US16 million hit.
At Foxtel, declines in broadcast viewing were offset by streaming revenues from Kayo and Binge, with more than 2.8 million streaming subscribers in total.
Digital real estate division revenues, including results for REA Group and Move, grew by a quarter.
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