News Corp., owner of popular portal realtor.com, revealed Thursday that its revenue declined more than expected in recent months, though realtor.com’s parent Move actually saw revenue grow.
The company — which is best known for owning The Wall Street Journal but also operates an array of other businesses — announced that it brought in just $2.34 billion in revenue during July, August and September (which it defines as the first quarter of fiscal 2020). That revenue represents a drop of 7 percent year-over-year and falls short of analyst expectations.
Leading into Thursday’s report, analysts had expected News Corp. to announce $2.4 billion in revenue, merely a 4.9 percent year-over-year drop.
However, despite the lackluster overall earnings, realtor.com parent Move saw revenue grow 4 percent, making it a bright spot for the company.
News Corp.’s overall revenue from digital real estate services declined $21 million, or 7 percent year-over-year.
During an earnings call Thursday evening, News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson described realtor.com as a “tremendous property” and noted that it has also seen an 18 percent year-over-year increase in traffic. In total, realtor.com saw 71 million visitors during the quarter.
Thomson additionally said during the call that realtor.com’s traffic is also “growing faster than our nearest competitor.” He later singled out that competitor by name, saying that Zillow’s traffic growth has been far smaller and that Zillow-owned Trulia “actually shrank.”
Given those results, Thomson painted a relatively rosy picture for the future of News Corp.’s real estate endeavors.
“We’re at a very early stage of the evolution of the digital real estate market in the United States,” he said, “and as it evolves those margins will increase.”
However, despite that upbeat assessment, the overall company was weighed down during the most recent quarter by “pronounced currency headwinds” and a “particularly sluggish Australian economy and property market,” among other things, according to a statement.
News Corp. stock was down slightly when the markets closed Thursday, then seesawed in after-hours trading once the earnings report went public. It was most recently trading at just above $13 per share.
Shares were also down Thursday by about a dollar compared to a year ago, though the price has fluctuated over the past 12 months. Last December, for example, it fell to less than $11 per share, but in September it shot up to $14.66.
News Corp has had a mixed record this year when it comes to earnings. In February, the company beat analyst expectations when it announced that its revenue had grown 21 percent year-over-year. Three months later, however, the firm fell short of expectations, though it did tout “healthy growth” for its real estate service businesses.
In August, News Corp once again beat analyst expectations.
During Thursday’s call with investors, Thomson also singled out the company’s acquisition of Opcity, a real estate lead generation technology platform. News Corp. finalized that acquisition just over a year ago, and Thomson said that it has paid off since.
“The increase in real estate revenues, which represent 80 percent of total Move revenues, reflects the acquisition of Opcity, growth in audience and higher lead volume,” News Corp.’s statement further explains.
Finally, Thomson — echoing comments made Wednesday by Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman — concluded Thursday that he is seeing “signs of improving health in the U.S. housing marketing.”
Update: This post was updated after publication with additional information from News Corp.’s earnings call.