Viacom 2Q earnings jump 54 pct, revenue up 20 pct

Friday, April 22, 2011, Vol. 35, No. 16

NEW YORK (AP) — Viacom Inc., the owner of MTV and Paramount Pictures, reported on Thursday a sharp increase in its net income for the latest quarter, boosted by popular shows such as "Jersey Shore," its kids' network Nickelodeon and an improved advertising market.

The company, which is controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone, said its net income for the January-March period grew 53 percent to $376 million, or 63 cents per share, from $245 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier. Adjusted profit, which excludes earnings from discontinued operations, was 72 cents per share in the latest quarter.

Revenue was $3.27 billion, a 20 percent increase from $2.73 billion a year earlier, and well above Wall Street's expectations.

Analysts polled by FactSet, on average, were expecting lower earnings of 62 cents per share on revenue of $2.98 billion.

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

"We attracted new advertisers in the quarter and expanded the reach of our content onto new distribution platforms," he said in a statement. "Our networks aired top-rated shows for nearly every demographic. MTV's 'Jersey Shore' was the number one series across all of television with its target audience, which helped to boost the network's prime-time ratings nearly 65 (percent) for the quarter."

Viacom said its U.S. advertising revenue grew 11 percent and worldwide ad sales climbed 12 percent, further proof of an ongoing recovery in the ad market. Revenue in the cable TV network unit grew 11 percent to $2.08 billion.

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," both nominated for an Oscar for best picture. 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.

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

Viacom's widely traded Class B shares increased 50 cents at $48.85 on Wednesday and were unchanged in premarket trading Thursday.