Viacom Posts Less Revenue, Higher Profits in First Quarter
UPDATE: With fewer theatrical releases, Viacom's filmed entertainment division took in less money, though it posted a smaller loss than a year ago.
Viacom reported results Thursday from its fiscal first quarter and it represented good news for its TV networks and mixed news for its Paramount division. The overall results were better than analysts had projected and Viacom stock was up 5 percent to $85.15 during midday trading.
Overall, revenue was down four percent to about $3.2 billion in the quarter ending December 31.
The gains made by TV networks such as Nickelodeon, MTV and VH1 were strong. Revenue there rose 6 percent to $2.5 billion, boosted by a 10 percent increase in affiliate fees and a 4 percent increase in worldwide advertising.
But that was offset by a 30 percent decline in its filmed entertainment division. Revenue there came in at just $681 million. The company says that the year is nevertheless off to a strong start with films including Anchorman 2, Wolf of Wall Street, Nebraska and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. Viacom has cut expenses with fewer theatrical releases. An adjusted operating loss of $74 million in the film division was noted as a 47 percent improvement.
Viacom reported its net earnings at $547 million, up about 16 percent. The conglomerate earned $1.20 per share, four cents more than analysts predicted and up from 93 cents in the same quarter a year earlier.
During a conference call with analysts, Chairman Sumner Redstone spoke only briefly before turning it over to CEO Philippe Dauman.
"Viacom continues to deliver great audience experiences and strong returns for our shareholders. Our leadership is well positioned for many, many years to come and we are extremely excited about the future," Redstone said.
Dauman noted that Paramount received 13 Oscar nominations, even one for Bad Grandpa, for hair and makeup, and that improvements at the studio and at Viacom at large are in part owed to "ongoing financial discipline."
Mostly, though, Dauman was enthusiastic about the TV side of the business. Nickelodeon, which had gone through a rough patch recently, "is on a roll," he said. The network for children has posted year-over-year ratings growth for 12 consecutive months. He also noted that MTV is off to a good quarter.
Internationally, he said he sees "solid strength" in the UK and Northern Europe TV business and stability in Southern Europe. He promised to be "opportunistic" in launching new channels throughout the world.