The Street will like Viacom’s assurance that it will resume its stock repurchases beginning with the new fiscal year in October. But that may not be enough to overcome the mixed results from the June quarter — a period distinguished by its belt tightening at a time of declining TV ratings, and no major releases from Paramount Pictures.
Viacom generated $591 million in net earnings, down 3.1% vs the period last year, on revenues of $3.06 billion, down 10.6%. The consensus forecast looked for revenues to hit $3.22 billion. Earnings at $1.47 a share were right on target.
CEO Philippe Dauman says that the company has high hopes for new TV series and movie franchises, including Mission: Impossible. “Underpinning this, we are operating more efficiently than ever, accelerating content development and delivering programming more quickly to audiences on all screens. We maintain a strong balance sheet, giving us significant financial flexibility and we remain committed to resuming Viacom’s share repurchase program in October.”
At the main Media Networks unit — which includes Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, and BET– operating income fell 1% to $1.11 billion with revenues flat at nearly $2.60 billion. Domestic ad sales fell 9%, a bigger decline than many analysts expected, due to the ratings drops. Worldwide ad sales were down 2%. These declines were offset by rising payments the company collects from cable and satellite companies.
There wasn’t much to say at the Filmed Entertainment operation, which includes Paramount. Last year it had Transformers: Age Of Extinction in the June quarter. But this year’s tentpoles — Terminator Genisys and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation — came out in July, Viacom’s fiscal Q4. The result: Operating income fell 13% to $48 million while revenues dropped 44% to $479 million. The year-over-year comparisons also hurt in home entertainment, where worldwide revenues fell 30% to $199 million, and ancillary revenues dropped 43%.