Dow Jones has doubled its profitability over the past four years, new financial results for parent company News Corp show.
But the rest of News Corp, which includes the New York Post, News UK and News Corp Australia, suffered a year-on-year slowdown.
The company’s full-year accounts for 2022/23 record revenue declines across most segments and a 15% drop in business-wide earnings before interest, tax, debt and amortisation (EBITDA), to $1.4bn.
And in the fourth quarter (ending 30 June), the company recorded a net loss of $32m.
The Wall Street Journal and Sun parent company attributed most of its annual falls at least partially to an accounting quirk: the preceding fiscal year, ending 30 June 2022, was 53 weeks long, whereas the 2022/23 fiscal year was a more traditional 52 weeks long. As a result it generated revenue for one less week, a drag on profit that was compounded by currency fluctuations.
In common with some other companies, News Corp defines its fiscal year as 52 weeks, or four quarters each of which is 13 weeks long. This leaves two days a year unaccounted for, necessitating the inclusion of a 14-week quarter every few years.
But the company trumpeted “impressive results for the burgeoning professional information business” at Dow Jones, which posted both its highest quarterly profit and highest annual profit.
Last year News Corp acquired the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) and Base Chemicals (since renamed Chemical Market Analytics, or CMA) which now sit under the Dow Jones business. The company said EBITDA for the segment rose 25% quarter-on-quarter and 14% for the full year, and that revenue from risk and compliance products rose to over $250m.
Chief executive Robert Thomson said: “Not only has Dow Jones doubled its profitability over the past four years but it is also nearing a landmark moment with our lucrative B2B offerings expected to be the largest contributor to profitability in fiscal 2024 and a key driver of future growth.”
Subscription growth, advertising decline in News Corp 2022/23 results
Digital subscriptions grew across News Corp properties. The Wall Street Journal finished June with 3.4 million digital subscribers (a 10% year-on-year increase) and just shy of 4 million subscriptions in total (a 6% increase).
At Barron’s, digital subscriptions grew 20% to 1 million and total subscriptions grew 13% to 1.2 million.
Digital subscribers to News Corp Australia as of 30 June were 1.06 million (943,000 for news mastheads), up from 964,000 (882,000 for news) the year before.
Nonetheless, News Corp’s circulation revenue remained largely static once the missing week is removed from calculations (and is lower if it is left in).
Advertising revenue suffered. In Q4 at Dow Jones, if the missing week is excluded, advertising revenues were down 6% on the prior year. Including that week, they decreased 14%, with an 18% decrease in print advertising revenue and a 10% decline in digital advertising revenue.
The company said News UK saw an increase in digital advertising, but that it only partially offset a decline in print advertising.
Despite this, Thomson claimed that the company sees brighter times ahead.
“Our results showed marked improvement in the second half, so with inflation abating, interest rates plateauing and incipient signs of stability in the housing market, we have sound reasons for optimism about the coming quarters.”
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