News Corp. will pay cash div­i­dend

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Meg James meg.james@latimes.com

Pub­lish­ing com­pany News Corp. said its fi­nances are in good shape and that it would be­gin pay­ing in­vestors a semi­an­nual cash div­i­dend.

The move, an­nounced Thurs­day, was welcome news. News­pa­per rev­enues in­dus­try­wide have been in steep de­cline, but the com­pany con­trolled by Ru­pert Mur­doch was de­signed to weather the storm that has been pum­mel­ing com­pet­ing com­pa­nies with print publi­ca­tions.

Two years ago, when Mur­doch di­vided his media em­pire into two pub­licly traded com­pa­nies — News Corp. and 21st Cen­tury Fox — he in­sisted that his pub­lish­ing com­pany be po­si­tioned for suc­cess with a strong bal­ance sheet. News Corp. had no debt and $2 bil­lion in cash on hand at the end of the March quar­ter, ac­cord­ing to a Wells Fargo Se­cu­ri­ties an­a­lyst.

Mur­doch’s com­pany in­cludes the Wall Street Jour­nal, the New York Post, the Times of Lon­don, a num­ber of Aus­tralian news­pa­pers, some Aus­tralian TV out­lets and book pub­lish­ing house HarperCollins.

The com­pany said it ex­pects to ini­ti­ate a semi­an­nual cash div­i­dend of about 10 cents a share in the first quar­ter of its next fis­cal year, which be­gins June 29. Pay­ment will be made to share­hold­ers dur­ing the Oc­to­ber-De­cem­ber quar­ter. Last month, the com­pany ini­ti­ated a long-term stock buy­back pro­gram of as much as $500 mil­lion.

“This de­ci­sion by the board is a sign of con­fi­dence in the state of our busi­ness and faith in our prospects for the fu­ture,” News Corp. Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Robert Thom­son said in a state­ment.

The Mur­doch fam­ily con­trols 39% of the vot­ing shares of News Corp.

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