Viacom 2Q earnings jump, boosted by 'Jersey Shore'

AP News
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Posted: Apr 28, 2011 12:08 PM
Viacom 2Q earnings jump, boosted by 'Jersey Shore'

"Jersey Shore" and an improved advertising market contributed to a sharp increase in Viacom Inc.'s net income for the latest quarter.

The media company also got a boost from a strong slate of movies _ both at the box office and on DVDs. Hit movies included two Oscar nominees for best picture, "True Grit" and "The Fighter," which were still in theaters following releases in December.

Viacom's net income for the January-March period grew 53 percent to $376 million, or 63 cents per share. It was $245 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier.

Adjusted profit, which excludes earnings from discontinued operations, was 72 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet, on average, were expecting 62 cents.

Revenue grew 20 percent to $3.27 billion from $2.73 billion. That's well above Wall Street's expectations of $2.98 billion.

"Today Viacom is exactly where it needs to be," said Sumner Redstone, who controls the company and is executive chairman. "Making some of the most talked about television programs and bringing the most anticipated movies to the screen."

CEO Philippe Dauman said Viacom's fiscal second quarter was outstanding in all areas.

"We attracted new advertisers in the quarter and expanded the reach of our content onto new distribution platforms," he said.

Viacom's cable networks, which include MTV and Comedy Central, had top-rated shows for nearly every demographic, Dauman said. He said MTV's prime-time ratings grew nearly 65 percent.

The company's most profitable segment, media networks, saw revenue grow 11 percent to $2.08 billion.

Viacom credited the resurgence of MTV thanks to such popular shows as "Jersey Shore" and "16 and Pregnant," high viewership at Nickelodeon and prime-time audience gains at BET. Viacom also owns Comedy Central, which Dauman said also continues to grow.

"Both the 'Daily Show with Jon Stewart' and the 'Colbert Report' delivered, with Jon firmly positioned with young viewers," he said.

Higher ad revenue accompanied the networks' growing audiences. U.S. advertising revenue grew 11 percent and worldwide ad sales climbed 12 percent, further proof of an ongoing recovery in the ad market.

Theatrical revenue increased 50 percent during the quarter to $401 million, helped by popular movies carried over from the previous quarter _ including "True Grit" and "The Fighter." The animated "Rango," released during the quarter, helped boost results.

Viacom's home entertainment revenue climbed 38 percent to $410 million thanks to the popularity and higher number of DVD releases compared with a year earlier. Television license fees were 30 percent higher, at $336 million.

Television license revenue grew 30 percent to $336 million, helped by higher network TV and syndication fees. Caris & Co analyst David Miller said Viacom's "solid beat" on revenue expectations resulted from the higher TV licensing fees. He said he had expected an increase, "but not to that level of magnitude."

Combined revenue for the movie studio unit increased 38 percent to $1.23 billion.

New York-based Viacom's widely traded Class B shares increased $1.85, or 3.8 percent, to $50.70 in midday trading Thursday.