Markets & Economy

News Corp. launches earnings call with praise for Move’s performance

Both Robert Thomson and Bedi Ajay Singh noted throughout the call that the company has big plans for digital real estate
  • "We are particularly pleased with the momentum at realtor.com, which is significantly ahead of schedule on key metrics," said Chief Executive Robert Thomson in the investor call.
  • News Corp. reported Q1 revenues of $2.01 billion (a 4 percent decline from last year's $2.11 billion). This included $85 million from the Move acquisition.
  • Total net income for the company for Q1 was $189 million, up from $88 million in the same quarter in 2014.

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News Corp. is the parent company of such household brands as Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal.

But it was News Corp.’s holding Move Inc., which operates the real estate portal realtor.com, that News Corp. Chief Executive Robert Thomson referenced at the beginning of the company’s fiscal year 2016 first-quarter earnings report.

“We are particularly pleased with the momentum at realtor.com, which is significantly ahead of schedule on key metrics,” said Thomson in the call. “We are now, by some reckoning, the world’s largest digital property listings company, and we see a particularly bright future in the sector, especially in the U.S., where we believe the national real estate market is still returning to health.”

Total net income for the company for Q1 was $189 million, up from $88 million in the same quarter in 2014.

News Corp. reported Q1 revenues of $2.01 billion (a 4 percent decline from last year’s $2.11 billion). This included $85 million from the Move acquisition.

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Total Segment EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, deductions and amortization) for Q1 was $165 million, a 15 percent decline from $194 million in 2014. The segment includes News Corp.’s news and information services, book publishing, cable network programming and “digital real estate services,” under which Move is categorized.

“Continued strength at the digital real estate services and cable network programming segments, coupled with lower fees and costs related to the U.K. Newspaper Matters, were more than offset by the declines at the news and information services segment,” said the company in its earnings statement.

Earnings per share were $0.22, compared with $0.15 in 2014.

“In the first quarter, Move’s revenues increased 33 percent on a stand-alone basis to $85 million from $64 million in the prior year,” said News Corp. “Move saw continued strength in its Connection for Co-Brokerage product and non-listing Media revenues, coupled with market share gains for its Top Producer software product.

“Based on Move’s internal data, average monthly unique users of realtor.com’s web and mobile sites for the quarter grew 43 percent year-over-year to approximately 46 million, which was driven by 64 percent growth in mobile users.”

Both Thomson and News Corp.’s CFO, Bedi Ajay Singh, noted throughout the call that News Corp. has big plans for its profitable digital real estate acquisitions.

One listener asked Thomson what drove the increased Move revenue.

“Two things to highlight,” Thomson replied. “It’s not only an increase in the quantity of traffic; it’s very high-quality traffic, and that’s leading to an increase in Connection for Co-Brokerage revenue that’s quite significant. A company that starts with the final letter of the alphabet had its call earlier this week; it was up 13 percent.”

Zing!

“One other component is media advertising,” Thomson added, “not only in the editorial content but the approach to media advertising, that was up 65 percent year on year.”

And a final thought from Thomson: “We couldn’t have done what we’ve done with realtor.com without our newspaper assets.”