The publisher of TV Guide and interactive programme guide services has returned to profit in the last quarter, after losing nearly $640 million the year before.

Revenues for the three months to the end of 2004 increased to $186.6 million, with net income of $1.6 million, compared to a loss of $491.4 million for the same quarter the previous year. Full year revenue was up to $732.3 million.

Shares in Gemstar-TV Guide fell 10% following news that the company would no longer provide earnings forecasts because new initiatives it is undertaking make estimates difficult.

The former chief executive, Jeff Shell, recently left the company to head up the programme division of cable operator Comcast.

Richard Battista, the new chief executive said “Gemstar-TV Guide made good progress towards stabilizing its various businesses in 2004. We entered into new IPG patent license agreements, substantially increased distribution for our television networks, formed Guideworks, an IPG product development joint venture with Comcast, and launched our new I-Guide interactive programming guide.”

Revenue from publishing declined 9.4% year on year, with circulation of TV Guide at around 9 million, down from a height of around 20 million subscribers in the seventies.

Nearly a third of the business now comes from cable and satellite services, generating revenues of $230 million. TV Guide Interactive revenues doubled to $45.5 million over the year, due primarily to new technology licenses with Comcast, Time Warner, DIRECTV and EchoStar, together with increased revenues from the TV Guide Channel. Licensing technologies, including the VideoPlus system, raised $117 million.

There has been some speculation that News Corporation could buy the remaining 59% of Gemstar it doesn’t own already and possibly trade assets with Liberty Media.