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Tiny film slate contributes to lower revenue at Viacom

November 15, 2012|By Meg James
  • Viacom fiscal fourth-quarter earnings were up 13% but revenue was down, in part, because its Paramount Pictures released only one film: "Katy Perry: Part of Me."
Viacom fiscal fourth-quarter earnings were up 13% but revenue was down,… (AP )

Katy Perry wasn't enough to boost revenue for media company Viacom Inc.

The New York-based cable television giant Thursday reported 13% higher fiscal fourth-quarter earnings but revenue plummeted 17% because the company, through its Hollywood-based movie studio Paramount Pictures, released only one film during the period: "Katy Perry: Part of Me."

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, Viacom posted net income of $650 million, or $1.26 per share, compared to $576 million, or $1 per share, in the year-earlier period.

Viacom's earnings beat analysts' predictions of $1.17 per share. However, analysts were expecting higher revenue.

"Viacom was able to drive bottom-line growth both for the quarter and full year," Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman told analysts during a morning conference call.

Revenue of $3.36 billion compared to $4.05 billion during the fiscal fourth quarter of 2011. The company is controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone.

A July contract dispute with satellite giant DirecTV also contributed to the lower revenue at the key Media Networks group, which is grappling with declining ratings at its MTV networks. The disagreement with DirecTV led to a 10-day blackout of more than a dozen Viacom television channels, including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central from the satellite distributor's lineup.

The Media Networks group -- which includes all of the TV channels -- generated revenue of $2.29 billion, which was flat compared to the year-earlier period.  The unit produced $933 million in operating income, a 3% decline from the $958 million earned during the fourth quarter of 2011. 

Domestic ad revenue slipped 6%.

Revenue at the Filmed Entertainment Group / Paramount Pictures dropped 39% to $1.09 billion.  That compared to $1.79 billion in the year-earlier period. The slim film slate meant the studio had much lower marketing expenses. But the unit also collected higher TV license fees for its films.

The film studio's operating income of $195 million compared to $185 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. Worldwide box office receipts fell 83%. Viacom executives said the studio faced tough comparisons with the year-earlier quarter, which benefited from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and "Captain America."

"Viacom fiscal Q4 results were absolutely bad but relatively good (versus very low expectations)," Sanford Bernstein media analyst Todd Juenger wrote in a Thursday morning research note. "The market always looks forward and the question is: Will it get better?"

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