You can’t say that the first three months of this year represented a good quarter for Viacom considering that domestic ad sales and filmed entertainment were both down. But while the company fell short of Wall Street’s revenue expectations, it beat on adjusted earnings — due in part to lower expenses than some analysts anticipated.
The entertainment giant delivered a net loss of $53 million vs a profit of $502 million in the period last year on revenues of $3.08 billion, down 3%. The Street thought revenues would hit $3.26 billion. Yet after adjusting for the previously announced $784 million restructuring charge, earnings came in at $1.16 a share, well ahead of forecasts for $1.06.
“With our strategic realignment largely complete, Viacom is in excellent position to take full advantage of the many opportunities in the rapidly evolving media environment,” CEO Philippe Dauman says. “The $175 million in savings to be achieved in fiscal 2015 and substantial ongoing annual benefit will allow us to move efficiently through the second half of the year and beyond.”
At the main Media Networks business, operating income fell 5% to $903 million on revenues of $2.45 billion, up 3%. Domestic ad sales — one of the key metrics investors are following — dropped 5%, which the company attributes to lower ratings. That was offset by rate hikes in the fees paid by cable and satellite companies, which increased 5%.
The overseas results were more complicated. With Viacom’s expansion in Europe, including the September acquisition of UK’s Channel 5, ad sales increased 80%. Affiliate fees were up 3%. But both numbers were taken down by foreign exchange imbalances, as overseas currencies weakened against the dollar.
Profits in the division took a hit from rising programming and promotional expenses.
Paramount’s report was a lot drearier. Operating income was down 91% to $1 million on revenues of $659 million, down 21%. Although The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water fared well, theatrical revenues dropped 10%, which Viacom attributes to “lower carryover revenues from releases in the prior quarter.” Meanwhile, TV license fees and home entertainment revenues fell.