Twenty-First Century Fox revenue beats on gains from affiliate fees

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(Reuters) – Rupert Murdoch-controlled Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s (FOXA.O) quarterly revenue beat analysts’ estimate on Wednesday as the company received higher fees from cable and satellite distributors.

FILE PHOTO: The Twenty-First Century Fox Studios flag flies over the company building in Los Angeles, California U.S. on November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Shares of the media company, which agreed to sell the bulk of its film and TV assets to Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) last year in a $52.4 billion deal, were marginally up in extended trading.

Reuters reported on Monday that Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) is preparing an all-cash rival offer for the assets, with the U.S. cable company also notifying regulators of plans to bid for Fox target Sky (SKYB.L).

Revenue from Fox’s cable division, which houses the Fox News and FX channels among others, rose 9.8 percent to $4.42 billion, accounting for more than half of total revenue in the quarter.

That beat analysts’ average estimate of $4.4 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company reported a revenue of $3.51 billion in affiliate fee, a rise of 11 percent from a year earlier.

Revenue at its television unit, which houses Fox Broadcasting, fell 32 percent to $1.15 billion, as the year-ago quarter included strong ratings during the Super Bowl, and missed analysts’ estimate of $1.28 billion.

Fox earlier in the day announced a deal for seven television stations from Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI.O) for about $910 million, expanding Fox Television Stations’ coverage to nearly half of all U.S. households.

Total revenue fell 2 percent to $7.42 billion, but beat estimates of $7.4 billion.

Net income attributable to shareholders increased to $858 million, or 46 cents per share, in the third quarter ended March 31, from $799 million, or 43 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Fox earned 49 cents per share, missing analysts’ estimate of 53 cents per share.

Reporting by Jessica Toonkel in New York and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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