Earnings Call: News Corp's Murdoch Offers Bleak Outlook;  'We've Never Tolerated Fat'

This story was written by David Kaplan.
[In progress] News Corp (NYSE: NWS) CFO David DeVoe led off the call, seeking to reassure investors that, despite the Q4 loss, the company can clearly meet its debt obligations, insisting that it has enough cash on hand to pay the maturities coming due. In terms of guidance, DeVoe emphasized the weakness in marketer and consumer spending. Then, in grave tones, CEO and Chairman Rupert Murdoch came on, offering a bleak outlook mixed with confidence to manage through it. Murdoch: "This is the worst global economic crisis since News Corp was created and has been deeper than anyone predicted. We've reduced headcount and cut other costs. Even in flush times, this was never a company that tolerated fat. So we're well positioned to handle this crisis right now. This why the WSJ is the only newspaper growing or what social networking is becoming mainstream. We never feared change and risk. We're putting all our business through rigorous strategic reviews."

Noting that the WSJ has been the only paper to increase circ, Murdoch said WSJ Digital Networkwhich includes the website and AllThingsDhas seen traffic grow 76 percent over the past year.
Vagueness on FIM: MySpace still leads the social net space and will continue to grow.
All is not lost: Murdoch then turned to TV and the state of the ad economy. "Every time there's a recession, advertising always comes back stronger. I'm not being flippant; I'm not saying we'll return to record levels. But all is not lost." More to come

By David Kaplan