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'Titanic' Steers Viacom to Profit

April 30, 1998|From Bloomberg News

Viacom Inc. reported a first-quarter profit as it benefited from the record success of "Titanic," its cable television channels and a turnaround at its Blockbuster video chain.

Net income was $1.4 million, or a loss of 4 cents a share after payment of preferred dividends. A year earlier, Viacom had a loss from continuing operations of $23.8 million, or 11 cents.

Viacom's share price has more than doubled in the last year as the entertainment company implemented changes at Blockbuster that have led to two quarters of higher sales. Viacom also could halve its debt with proceeds from selling much of its Simon & Schuster publishing house.

Viacom class B shares jumped $3.06 to close at $59.13 on the American Stock Exchange, nearing their all-time high of $61.25.

Viacom's cash flow, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, increased 3.5% to $405.7 million, from $392 million. Revenue rose 5.8% to $3.09 billion, from $2.92 billion.

The company's entertainment division, which includes its Paramount Pictures film and television operations, had a 21% gain in cash flow to $153 million, mostly because of "Titanic."

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