Fox Corporation beat Wall Street expectations on Thursday after reporting a net income of $415 million on revenue of $3.21 billion for its first fiscal quarter of 2024 as CEO Lachlan Murdoch touted an “active news cycle and robust sports schedule,” up from the $3.19 billion in revenue reported in the prior year quarter.
That translated to 82 cents per share of earnings attributable to Fox shareholders, or $1.21 per share on an adjusted basis.
The company reported an advertising revenue dip of 2% from the prior year quarter at $290 million, pointing to the “continued impact of elevated supply in the direct response marketplace and lower ratings” while noting this was partially offset by higher national pricing at Fox News Media and the broadcast of the Women’s World Cup. The comparison was also in contrast to the prior year quarter’s advertising boost thanks to the midterm elections.
“We understand there was inconsistency around the broader advertising market, particularly in entertainment,” Murdoch said during Thursday’s earnings call. “But our focus on live sports and news continued to deliver with healthy national pricing and demand in addition to continued momentum at TV.”
“The advertising market appears to be mixed, unsettled, but we are not seeing that to the same extent due to our focus on sports and news,” Murdoch noted.
In the first quarter of 2023, Fox Corp. reported a net income of $605 million on revenue of $3.19 billion, $1.10 per share of earnings attributable to Fox shareholders, or $1.21 per share on an adjusted basis.
“In the first quarter, we saw increased engagement at Fox Sports, driven by our broadcast of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the start of college football, and at Tubi, which continues to drive impressive growth in viewing in an increasingly crowded marketplace,” Murdoch said in an earnings statement. “Taken as a whole, Fox continues to leverage the strength of its leadership brands while driving meaningful growth across our digital assets.”
Fox News has seen solid ratings as of late, performing particularly well in the month of October, securing the No.1 cable news spot across total viewership and demo in coverage of the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict with its extensive on-the-ground coverage helmed by foreign correspondent Trey Yingst.
On Thursday’s earnings call, Murdoch kicked off his statements with a “note of thanks,” for the Fox News team who has been tirelessly covering the war zone. “We are living through a tumultuous time and at the outset, I want to acknowledge the work our journalists are doing covering the horrific October 7 terrorist attack and the subsequent ongoing war in the Middle East,” Murdoch said.
“News reporting is hard. And war reporting is perhaps the hardest,” Murdoch continued. “Our team deserves our admiration and our gratitude as they continue to work tirelessly, and under demanding conditions to keep us up to date on events far away and on their impact closer to home.”
Rupert Murdoch announced he would step down from his role as chairman of both Fox Corp. and News Corp in September. While Lachlan was appointed in his father’s place as the sole chair of News Corp, he maintains his role as executive chair and CEO of Fox Corp. In essence, the true leadership transition for Fox had already taken place prior to Rupert Murdoch’s announcement earlier this year.
On Thursday, Lachlan Murdoch acknowledged his father’s continued role in the company even after his formal departure, saying “I can assure you, he is still very much involved and will continue to be for years to come.”
Fox Corp. looks to distance itself from a tumultuous last year which included a $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over election fraud claims, and the relatively shocking ouster of top talent and resident controversy-maker Tucker Carlson. However, a lawsuit filed by Smartmatic, another voting systems company seeking $2.7 billion in damages, is still looming over the company.