News Corp tops profit estimates as property listings unit grows

FILE PHOTO: The Fox News electronic ticker is seen outside the News Corporation building in New York City, in New York, U.S., November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch-controlled media group News Corp topped Wall Street estimates for quarterly earnings and revenue on Thursday, driven by stronger sales at its online real estate listings unit.

Revenue from its digital real estate services rose 7 percent in the final quarter of 2018, cushioning declines at its dominant news and information business that houses the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires.

The property listings business, home to the and websites, benefited in part from higher prices in Australia, where News Corp also runs a host of papers and websites.

While a challenging market has caused print advertising revenue to fall, News Corp has managed to offset the declines by solid contributions from its digital businesses.

Its book publishing unit that includes HarperCollins grew at about 6 percent in the December quarter.

Overall, News Corp’s revenue climbed 21 percent to $2.63 billion (£2.03 billion) in the three months ended Dec. 31, above the $2.61 billion expected by analysts on average, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net income available to stockholders was $95 million, compared with a loss of $84 million a year earlier that reflected a $174 million expense related to changes in the U.S. tax law.

Excluding one-time items, News Corp earned 18 cents per share, topping analysts’ estimates of 14 cents.

Thomson Reuters Inc, the parent of Reuters News, competes with News Corp’s Dow Jones Newswires for financial news customers.

Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar