NEW YORK – The lack of another blockbuster hit like 2009's "Avatar" helped push third-quarter profits down 21 percent, media and entertainment giant News Corporation said Wednesday.
Profit for the quarter to March 31 fell to $682 million from the $861 million record quarter a year earlier, when the company was still raking in huge sums from "Avatar," the world's best-selling film.
The company also continued to see significant losses from its sagging MySpace social media website, which has lost ground to Facebook, and also took a $125 million hit to pre-tax income after it settled an antitrust lawsuit by Insignia Systems.
But the company said it expected a boost in the current quarter from its newest film hit "Rio."
Revenue declined to $8.26 billion from $8.78 billion in the same quarter a year ago.
Earnings per share were 24 cents, compared with 32 cents a year earlier.
"As we anticipated, News Corporation's third-quarter financial results faced challenging comparisons when set against last year's record 'Avatar' contribution at our Filmed Entertainment business," News Corp. chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch said in a statement.
"However, the great response to 'Rio' and our confidence in our upcoming releases indicate that the difficult comparisons in this segment over the past nine months are now behind us," Murdoch said.
"I'm particularly pleased that our Television segment, viewed by the market just one year ago as a challenged business, more than quadrupled its earnings contributions over the prior year quarter."
The media giant saw income in its cable programming unit rise 25 percent to $735 million, and television income soared more than fourfold to $192 million. Its film division saw income fall by half to $248 million due to the "Avatar" effect.
Meanwhile losses mounted 10 percent to $165 million in the income segment including MySpace, "stemming largely from lower advertising and search revenues," the company said.
Publishing also dropped, both due to the $125 million litigation charge and sharp falls in advertising revenues for its Australian and British newspapers, it said.