Viacom shares are up about 2% this morning after investors received a dollop of encouraging news ahead of the Wednesday release of its September quarter earnings, which analysts expect to be dismal: The company’s UK-based Channel 5 Broadcasting said today that it generated a record profit in the fiscal year ending in September.
That enables Channel 5, which Viacom bought in 2014 for £450 million (currently equal to $557.5 million), to “claim the first consecutive years of profitability in its 20-year history,” it said.
“Channel 5 is radically different to the network Viacom first looked at buying three years ago; it has an entirely new look and just seven shows still broadcasting that were on air in 2013,” said David Lynn, Viacom International Media Networks’ President of UK, Northern and Eastern Europe.
It’s now “sustainably profitable for the first time, in spite of recent economic uncertainty.”
The improvements are due to “original British content,” he added. Channel 5 also has “transformed the business model, through our advertising partnership with Sky Media” and worked “more closely with our pay TV channels.”
Viacom’s international performance is in the spotlight: Next week VIMN chief Bob Bakish will become the parent company’s acting CEO, replacing Tom Dooley.
And although Viacom is considering a merger with CBS, it just agreed to pay $400 million for Argentina’s popular broadcast network Telefe, a major producer of telenovelas. The deal did not sit well with some investors after Viacom slashed its dividend by half to 20 cents a share.
Analysts have low expectations for the earnings Viacom will report this week. Shares are down 14.7% over the past three months. Network ratings have been weak, and the company pre-announced in September that it will take a $115 million impairment charge for upcoming film Monster Trucks, as well as severance expenses likely due to the exit agreement for former CEO Philippe Dauman.
Channel 5’s report shows a 16% increase in its comprehensive income to £42.3 million ($52.4 million) on revenues — also referred to as Turnover — of £383.6 million ($475.2 million).