Paramount lineup key for Viacom
Redstone, Dauman speak at annual shareholder meetingNEW YORK -- Viacom's stock is undervalued, but should move higher during the next year if management continues its turnaround of key businesses, chairman Sumner Redstone and CEO Philippe Dauman said at the firm's annual shareholder meeting Thursday.
In that regard, one of the industry's final events of the annual meeting season echoed a key theme heard in other sector biggie's shareholder gatherings.
"Over the long run -- we're in a bad market now -- it will go up," Redstone said. "Next year, we'll see where the stock is. I think it will be higher."
"The fundamentals of our business have not changed," Dauman said in discussing his recent lowering of second-quarter cable network advertising revenue guidance. "The market will appropriately value our shares" if management continues to execute well.
Among the about 100 guests at Midtown Manhattan's Hudson Theatre just across the street from Viacom's Times Square headquarters were CFO Tom Dooley, board member and Redstone's daughter Shari, Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Brad Grey, MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath and BET Networks chairman and CEO Debra Lee.
Chairman Redstone lauded his team for "pushing creativity and efficiency to new heights" and repeatedly heaped praise on his CEO, calling him "my friend and colleague" and "the great Philippe Dauman."
The CEO caused chuckles when he started his presentation by saying: "Thank you, Sumner, for your excessive praise."
Redstone also lauded "one of the strongest lineups in Paramount's history" this year, highlighting the success of "Iron Man" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," as well as predicting that "The Love Guru," "Tropic Thunder" and other releases all had blockbuster potential as well.
Dauman also highlighted this week's opening of DreamWorks Animation-produced "Kung Fu Panda."
Outside Thursday's meeting, a couple dozen people protested against what they argue is the use of negative and derogatory images of blacks and Latinos on BET. Dauman answered one shareholder question about that topic by saying he is proud of BET's work, and its programming would continue to evolve. In a moment that raised eyebrows, he told shareholders that he and Lee have had BET protesters outside their homes every Sunday for the past several months.