Friday, February 06, 2009

News Corp Reports 2Q

Suggesting headcount reductions were on the way, Rupert Murdoch commented that they don't run fat during their presentation of the company's second quarter numbers. Speaking about cost cutting,
We are taking them out everywhere. I mean, I am at Australia at the moment and the local management is in the process of combining all their back offices between the States and (Inaudible). There are many different processes we are doing. That goes right across the company, which is going to save a lot of people and a lot of money. And there are little things, the Wall Street Journal, there are so many numerous small things. We are combining in the back office, the Wall Street Journal and New York Post, which will eventually save about $7 million, certainly $4.5 million in the immediate future. We have also negotiated -- nearly renegotiated nearly all of our delivery contractors across the whole of United States with a saving just starting now of $5 million a year. And it goes on and on. It seems like we are chiseling away at small things, but they do add up to a lot of money.
Due to a non cash impairment write down the company reported a operating income of loss of $7.6billion versus operating income of $1.4billion in the same quarter last year. Without the impairment charge operating income of $818million was 42% lower than the same period last year. Results were off in all divisions except magazines and inserts.

Commenting specifically on publishing,
Turning to the book publishing segment, second quarter operating income contributions were down $44 million compared to last year. This decline reflects the weaker retail book market, the lack of comparable strong releases versus a year ago and a charge of $6 million for the bankruptcy of a customer.
Conf Call Transcript: SeekingAlpha.

From the company's press release:

HarperCollins operating income decreased $44 million versus the same period a year
ago due to lower sales driven by the weakening retail market as well as a difficult
comparison to a year ago that included strong sales of The Daring Book for Girls by
Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz, The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden and Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. In addition, segment profits for the quarter were down due to charges related to the bankruptcy of a major UK distributor.

Second quarter results included solid sales of The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb, A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire, If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff and Multiple Blessings by Jon and Kate Gosselin and Beth Carson. During the quarter, HarperCollins had 50 books on The New York Times bestseller list, including six books that reached the #1 spot.
(The $6mm charge for the bankruptcy would be related to Bertram in the UK).

First half revenues for the publishing group were $620mm versus $736mm in the prior year and operating income was $26mm versus $103mm.

NY Times article on News Corp/Dow Jones.

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