Twenty-First Century Fox beats Wall Street expectations

November 2, 2016 4:12 PM EDT

The 21st Century Fox logo is seen outside the News Corporation headquarters in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 29, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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By Jessica Toonkel and Aishwarya Venugopal

(Reuters) - Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ: FOXA) reported first-quarter profits on Wednesday that beat Wall Street's expectations, as the company's cable channels and box office saw a boost in revenues.

Fox, which is home to Fox News Channel and FX, saw its cable division revenue rise nearly 10 percent to $3.81 billion in the first quarter, accounting for more than half of total revenue.

James Murdoch, chief executive officer at Fox, told analysts on a call Wednesday that he expects Fox's strong ratings during the presidential election campaign to help drive affiliate fees as it has some "significant renewals" approaching.

Fox News is the most watched cable news network and has maintained strong ratings in the wake of the high-profile departure of its former CEO Roger Ailes.

The company is not planning any changes to the network's strategy, Murdoch said on the call.

Revenues for its film division, buoyed by last summer's hits, "Independence Day: Resurgence" and "X-Men: Apocalypse" increased 6.8 percent in the quarter ended Sept. 30.

Fox does not feel any pressure to make a big acquisition despite the planned acquisition by telecommunications provider AT&T Inc (NYSE: T) of Time Warner Inc (NYSE: TWX), Murdoch told analysts on the call. Fox had made a bid for Time Warner in 2014, only to be rebuffed.

"There isn't a heightened appetite for inorganic activities," Murdoch told analysts. "We really try to be very disciplined about this."

Similarly, Murdoch said the company is not feeling pressure to come out with its own over-the-top video streaming service like so many of its competitors have. Fox is a part owner of Hulu and has distribution agreements with many over-the-top providers.

The Rupert Murdoch-controlled company's shares were flat in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

The company's total revenue increased to $6.51 billion from $6.08 billion.

Analysts on average were expecting revenue of $6.49 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income attributable to shareholders rose to $821 million, or 44 cents per share, from $675 million, or 34 cents per share.

(Reporting by Jessica Toonekl in New York Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Lisa Shumaker)

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