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Earnings: NWS: Flat Profit Despite Double-Digit Segments; ‘Real’ Internet Profits — Thanks, GOOG

News Corp.’s (NYSE: NWS) profit for the quarter ending Dec. 31 was essentially flat, barely budging to $832 million ($0.27 cents per share) over $822 million ($0.26 per share) during the same quarter last year. That’s despite growing revenues by nearly 10 percent to $8.59 billion from $7.84 billion last year — and hitting a record with operating income, which was up 24 percent to $1.4 billion from $1.1 billion last year.

Two quick items before the call starts:

— From Murdoch’s statement in the earnings release: “… Our internet platform is now delivering real profits from locked in search revenues as well as from advertising revenue growth as a result of our hyper-targeting initiatives.” That would be the same locked-in revenues at MySpace the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) folks spent a large chunk of their call last week alternately defending because of the promise and offering as a reason for some disappointing results. Fox Interactive Media is reported in the “other segment” — which reported operating income of $23 million, up $22 million over last year “primarily led by FIM, partially offset by startup losses at our Eastern European broadcasting initiatives. Strong operating income growth at FIM was driven by higher search revenues, primarily from the Google agreement which took effect in January 2007, and advertising revenue growth as a result of increased traffic, further inventory monetization and international expansion. The revenue growth was partially offset by increased costs associated with the larger audience, international expansion and new features.” Translation: without Google, the numbers wouldn’t look very good.

— Dow Jones was acquired during the quarter; the results are included in the Newspapers and Information Services segment. NWS attributes the 15 percent increase in operating income for that segment in the quarter to strong results in Australia. Via the call, only two weeks of DJ results were included so not reflected in operating income.

Earnings release | Webcast | Transcript