News Corp profit up on ad recovery, Avatar

NEW YORK Tue Feb 2, 2010 4:26pm EST

News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch attends a workshop named ''How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age'' at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, December 1, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed

News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch attends a workshop named ''How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age'' at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, December 1, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Media conglomerate News Corp posted better-than-expected quarterly results on Tuesday thanks to a recovery in local advertising sales and the blockbuster 3-D movie "Avatar."

News Corp, which also raised its dividend by 25 percent, said fiscal second-quarter net income was $254 million, or 10 cents a share. A year earlier, it posted a net loss of $6.4 billion, or $2.45 a share, before items.

Last year's loss included a writedown for its purchase of Dow Jones, and other items.

News Corp's bottom line in the latest quarter included a $500 million litigation settlement payout to Valassis Communications.

Excluding one-time charges in both periods, second quarter adjusted profit was 25 cents a share, up from 15 cents a year ago. Analysts were expecting the company to post earnings of 20 cents a share on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 10 percent to $8.684 billion, ahead of analysts' average forecast.

News Corp's Hollywood studio business saw its operating income nearly triple to $324 million thanks to a record-breaking performance from the 3D sci-fi movie "Avatar," which James Cameron directed.

"Avatar" has sold more than $2 billion in ticket sales at the worldwide box office, overtaking "Titanic" to become the biggest movie of all time.

(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke. Editing by Robert MacMillan)

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