Earnings: News Corp. Swings To Black With $843 Million Profit; FIM Projected To Break Even In 2007

Updated. News Corp.’s fiscal first quarter for 2007 looks better than the same quarter last year overall but the company experienced some pressure from timing of movie and DVD releases as well as the costs of launching MyNetwork TV. Largely aided by asset sales, the pre-charge profit was up 45 percent over its the same period last year, rising to $843 million, or $0.27 per share. Last year’s quarter was dragged down by a $1 billion accounting charge.
— Operating income was up 26 percent for the cable networks thanks to affiliate increases and advertising growth.
— Ad growth also helped moved the Fox network and television station group operating income up 20 percent.
— Filmed entertainment was down $129 million compared to the same quarter last year with strong syndication sales and home entertainment releases.
More from the conference call currently underway sans Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, who had a schedule conflict.
Not a lot on FIM in the release but some details from the call:
FIM profit: Fox Interactive Media is profitable already and News Corp. expects it to break even in FY07. COO Peter Chernin said that the new division already would be at break even were it not for executive retention costs, amortizations, etc. For now, FIM is included in News Corp.’s “other” segment, which showed a decline of $47 million in the quarter. CFO Dave DeVoe explained that the decline primarily reflects the inclusion of FIM and mobile, which were not included in the same quarter last year.
Google-MySpace: Chernin said he doesn’t think the YouTube-Google deal “has any impact on our relationship with Google.” He also said Google search went live on MySpace this week. “Tremendous amount of work that nbeeded to be done” to get Google search up; he expects the contextual ads to follow soon.
MySpace-China: Chernin said a MySpace move into China likely would be done as a JV similar to the one with SoftBank in Japan announced this week.
Liberty Media talks: News Corp. doesn’t feel any pressure to make a deal with Liberty Media to regain the NWS shares currently held by John Malone’s company. One possible swap much in the news — News Corp.’s controlling shares of DirecTV. Chernin: “We don