Rupert Murdoch's News Corp posted a 47 percent drop in operating income on Wednesday because of falling advertising revenue at its television stations, newspapers and other businesses.
But Murdoch said it was clear that some of the worst declines were over, echoing the comments of executives at other media conglomerates such as Walt Disney Co and Viacom Inc who have talked about signs of stabilization.
News Corp maintained its forecast for fiscal 2009 operating income to fall 30 percent, and Murdoch told analysts on a conference call that it looked like the days of precipitous decline are done in some businesses.
The company reported third-quarter net income of $2.7 billion, or $1.04 a share, compared with $2.7 billion, or 91 cents a share, in last year's quarter. The results included a gain of $1.2 billion for selling an ownership stake in NDS Group Plc and a $1.2 billion non-cash tax benefit.
Operating income fell 47 percent to $755 million.
Revenue fell 15.7 percent to $7.37 billion, short of the average analyst forecast of $7.72 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.
Shares of News Corp were flat in after-hours trading, reflecting Wall Street's sentiment that media conglomerates might be putting the worst of the recession behind them.
The notion is that even though they missed, they missed on the divisions that have been generally underperforming anyway, said Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce.
all the media conglomerate stocks, people are looking for signs of a bottom in the ad market, he said. The market's getting more confident that a rebound's starting to form.
News Corp owns a host of media properties around the world including Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, satellite TV network Sky Italia and newspapers worldwide.
The recession has damaged the company's heavily advertising based-businesses, notably its newspapers and local TV stations in the United States.
News Corp's television segment operating income fell 99 percent to $4 million because of lower ad revenue and higher programing costs. Newspaper division operating income fell 97 percent because of lower ad sales.
Cable Network Programing operating income rose 30 percent to $429 million.
Its other segment, which includes social network MySpace, reported an operating loss of $89 million, due in part to lower ad revenues and higher costs for its MySpace music project.
MySpace has ceded ground to rival Facebook. Last month, News Corp forced out MySpace's co-founder and chief executive, and brought in an ex-Facebook executive to run the networks.
The company also has taken over moves to strengthen its digital portfolio, bringing in new blood there and elsewhere in the company. Many of the changes have come since Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin said he would leave at the end of the company's fiscal year this June.
News Corp shares have lost half their value in the past 12 months, more than other big media conglomerates such as Viacom, Time Warner Inc and Walt Disney Co.
News Corp shares were flat in after-hours trading after rising 42 cents to close at $9.45 on Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Robert MacMillan and Tiffany Wu; Editing by Richard Chang)