Viacom Q4 Profit Drops Despite Business Improvements

Viacom said net income in its fiscal fourth quarter dropped, even as the entertainment company saw improvements in some of its chief revenue lines, a sign of the challenges its operations continue to face even as the parent prepared to merge with CBS Corp. in a few weeks’ time.

The New York owner of Nickelodeon, MTV and the Paramount movie studio said net income for the quarter fell to $307 million, or 76 cents a share, compared with$394 million, or 98 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter period. Excluding non-recurring items, adjusted earnings per share fell 79 cents from 99 cents. Revenue was off 1.5%, to about $3.43 billion from nearly $3.49 billion.

Revenue and earnings, however, surpassed Wall Street expectations.

Viacom is in the midst of combining with CBS Corp., another entertainment giant that, like Viacom, is controlled by the Redstone family’s National Amusements movie-exhibition chain.

Viacom said revenue in its filmed-entertainment division tumbled 14% in the period to about $851 million, citing difficult comparisons with the year-earlier period, which contained the latest film in the company’s “Mission: Impossible” franchise. But revenue from the company’s larger cable division rose 4% to more than $2.61 billion, largely on a 6% increase in revenue from distributors and a 1% increase in advertising.

The company saw advertising grow due to continued interest in new marketing methodologies it has developed in recent years, while affiliate revenue grew as Viacom’s programming is carried by a wider array of venues, said Bob Bakish, the company’s CEO, in a prepared statement. He also said Paramount, which has long been an operational thorn in the company’s side, was profitable during the period – the first time it has been so in four years.