There’s mixed results in the Q4 report, but we’ll see whether it registers with Wall Street at a time when so many investors are so concerned about U.S. TV advertising. For the quarter that ended in December, Viacom reported net income of $500 million, down 8.6% from the period in 2013, on revenues of $3.34 billion, +4.6%. The revenue number was short of the $3.41 billion that analysts anticipated. Not including a charge for a pension settlement and a one-time tax expense, earnings came in at $1.29 a share, a penny ahead of consensus.
CEO Philippe Dauman said Viacom delivered “solid top line results and record earnings per share” in the quarter. “To maintain our leadership position, we will continue to innovate and to manage our business as effectively and efficiently as possible, embracing change and adopting new technologies to better measure and monetize our content and meet industry-wide challenges.”
At the core Media Networks business, revenues rose 4% to $2.65 billion but operating income fell 1% to $1.1 billion. The revenue lift included a 4% increase in payments from pay TV providers –up 8% in the U.S. and 6% elsewhere. But domestic ad sales fell 6% which Viacom attributes to “lower ratings” for its networks. Overseas ad sales were up 3%, but that’s mostly due to the acquisition in September of UK’s Channel 5.
At Paramount, the release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles helped revenues improve 6% to $720 million while its operating loss was 19% lighter to $60 million. Theatrical sales increased 6% while home video — a sore spot for many studios — was up 16%. But license fees declined 9%. Interstellar was the studio’s top grossing title in Q4 vs last year when Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa led the slate.
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