Murdoch: We Don’t Want Yahoo

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, fresh off one of the best quarters his company has ever had financially, told analysts and reporters Monday that he has no intention of entering the fray for Internet giant Yahoo Inc., after Microsoft Corp.’s unsolicited $44.6 billion bid last week.

“We are definitely not going to make a bid for Yahoo,” Murdoch said on a conference call with analysts to discuss News Corp.’s fiscal second-quarter results. “We’re not really interested at this stage.”

Microsoft surprised the analyst community with its unsolicited $44.6 billion ($31 per share) bid for Yahoo on Feb. 1 -- a 62% premium to the search giant’s $19.18 per share stock price on Jan. 31 -- and some expected that the offer would set off a bidding war for the asset. Some analysts had expected that News Corp., which controls the highly successful social networking site MySpace, might feel compelled to enter the fray.

On the conference call, News Corp. chief operating officer Peter Chernin echoed Murdoch’s comments. “We’re not making a bid,” he said.

News Corp. reported its highest ever quarterly operating income in the second quarter, generating about $1.4 billion in operating income in the period, up 24% from $1.1 billion a year ago. The company said the growth was fueled by double-digit advances in practically every one of its operating segments.

Cable networks, including Fox News Channel, FX and the FSN regional sports channels, reported operating income of $337 million in the period, a 13% increase despite added costs from two new launches – the Big Ten Network and Fox Business Network in the period. The company added that it had about $50 million in startup losses in the quarter for both channels, a bit less than it expected.

Revenue at the cable unit was $1.2 billion for the period, a 30% increase from $920 million in the same period last year.

Overall, News Corp. reported revenue of $8.6 billion in the period, up 10.3% from $7.8 billion last year. Operating income for the company was $1.4 billion in the quarter, up 27.3% from $1.1 billion in the same period in fiscal 2007. 

News Corp. raised its operating income growth guidance for the year, from the low-teens to the mid-teens, based on the strong performance. 

Murdoch said on the conference call that its Fox broadcasting network generated about $250 million in revenue from Sunday’s Super Bowl XLII contest between the New York Giants and New England Patriots. That total does not include any advertising revenue connected to the game from its owned-and-operated television stations or its MySpace social networking site.

Murdoch said that the Super Bowl was Fox’s biggest single day ever. Fox started its pre-game programming at 9 a.m. on Sunday, with the game itself ending at about 10:30 p.m.

“Was it profitable? Certainly,” Murdoch said. “How profitable I couldn’t tell you.”