It’s usually a tipoff that something’s wrong when an earnings release talks about how much cash a company gave back to shareholders in a quarter, and then focuses on future endeavors. But in Viacom‘s case, on first glance, the fiscal Q2 results out this morning look merely blah, not bad. Net income at $502M was +5% vs the first three months of 2013, on revenues of $3.17B, +1.2%. The top line was a hair shy of the $3.2B that analysts expected. Earnings at $1.13 a share beat forecasts for $1.05. The main Media Networks business saw operating income rise 9% to $949M on revenues of $2.38B, +6%. Rate hikes to pay TV distributors resulted in an 11% pop in affiliate revenues. Domestic ad sales increased 2% while worldwide was up 3%. The Paramount-led Filmed Entertainment unit told a different story with operating income down 83%, to $11M, on revenues of $831M, down 12%. Viacom attributes the drop to “lower carryover revenue from prior period releases.” The Wolf Of Wall Street didn’t howl enough to prevent a 17% drop in theatrical revenues. Home entertainment fell 30% as the studio offered fewer releases. CEO Philippe Dauman reminded shareholders that the company “returned another $2B to investors through our share buyback and dividends” and noted that Paramount “kicked off its highly-anticipated summer slate with the successful release of Noah at the end of the quarter, to be followed by Transformers: Age Of Extinction, Hercules and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the coming months.”
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