Viacom Shares Hit 52-Week High on Strong Quarterly Earnings Report

4:17 PM PST 01/31/2013 by Paul Bond

The news draws a slew of positive comments from analysts as Nickelodeon's ratings improve and MTV does well after "Jersey Shore"

Shares of Viacom hit a 52-week high Thursday driven by slightly better-than-expected earnings and a slew of positive comments from analysts, mostly pertaining to a sense that things are improving at Nickelodeon and MTV can do fine without Jersey Shore.

Viacom reported 91 cents per share in adjusted quarterly earnings, a penny ahead of Wall Street expectations.

Among the analysts firing off positive notes Thursday was John Tinker of Maxim Group, who titled his report “Welcome Back SpongeBob.”

“MTV Networks' Catfish and Buckwild is performing well and is estimated to offset some dependence off Jersey Shore,” wrote Tinker, who maintained his “buy” rating and $69 price target.

Viacom shares rose $1.02 on Thursday to $60.35.

Tony Wible of Janney Capital Markets titled his report,“Light at the End of the Tunnel” and wrote: “Ratings at Nick and MTV are showing improvements and are on track to turn positive, as recent programming investments are starting to pay off.”

Vasily Karasyov of SIG wrote that “the turnaround investors waited for is within reach now,” and he reiterated his “positive” rating and $65 price target on the stock.

 “Things are getting better at Nickelodeon, MTV will be OK after Jersey Shore and U.S. advertising revenue should return to growth in the second half of fiscal year 2013,” wrote Karasyov.

And Mike Morris of Davenport and Co. raised his target to $67, writing that “improving trends remain underappreciated at current valuation.”

While Viacom hit a 52-week high, most of the other media conglomerates have also been trending higher in recent weeks. Disney closed Thursday at $53.88 (99 cents below its high), CBS closed at $41.72 ($1.42 off its high), News Corp. closed at $28.24 (42 cents shy of a high), Comcast closed at $38.08 ($2.20 short of a high), and Time Warner closed at $50.52 (77 cents less than its high). Sony is the laggard, closing at $14.94 on Thursday, well off its high of $22.35.

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