News Corporation (NWSA) announced the completion of the acquisition of The Walt Disney Company’s (DIS) stake in their 16 year-old Asian sports joint venture, “ESPN STAR Sports (ESS).” However, the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
ESS was the 50/50 joint venture between Disney’s ESPN and News Corporation, providing Asian sports fans a diverse collection of sports programs across 24 countries through 28 networks.
Earlier in June, the company announced that it will acquire ESPN’s 50% stake in ESS. ESS, with its right mix of exclusive sporting licenses with top sporting leagues emerged as an industry leader in the pay-TV industry.
With the acquisition, ESS is now the wholly-owned subsidiary of News Corporation. We believe that the buyout will enhance the company’s position in sports programming, thus bringing in incremental revenues through advertising and subscriptions.
Further, owing to a mandatory shift to a digital addressable system in India, the move better positions both the companies to independently manage their brands and generate positive cash flows while significantly expanding digital opportunities.
News Corporation strives to add diverse revenue streams to hedge against economic volatility. The company is focusing on the emerging markets to expand its media business, since these regions have millions of viewers.
News Corporation’s significant international presence has helped it broaden its client base and product portfolio. Among others, the company competes with Time Warner Inc. (TWX).
The company recently posted first-quarter 2013 earnings of 43 cents a share beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 37 cents, and rose 34% from 32 cents earned in the prior-year quarter on the back of double-digit growth across Cable Networks.
Including one-time items, News Corporation posted quarterly earnings of 94 cents a share, soaring from earnings of 28 cents delivered in the year-ago quarter.
News Corporation’s total revenue rose 2% year over year to $8,136 million. However, total revenue also fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $8,175 million
Currently, we maintain a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock. Moreover, News Corporation holds a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating.
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