Viacom reported largely positive second-quarter results, with total revenue slipping 3% to $3.15 billion. But media networks showed improvement, especially on the international front, and Paramount Pictures turned a profit for the first time in several quarters.
Operating income rose 37% to $456 million, while diluted earnings per share more than doubled to 64 cents from 30 in the prior-year quarter.
Media Networks, which has been a problematic unit given ratings erosion at flagship networks in the U.S. like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, saw revenues increase 1% to $2.43 billion. International drove the train, with an 18% revenue gain compensating for domestic dipping 3%. Worldwide advertising revenues and affiliate revenues remained flat at $1.11 billion and $1.16 billion, respectively.
Revenue in the second fiscal quarter decreased 3% to $3.15 billion, as segment growth in Media Networks was more than offset by lower Filmed Entertainment revenues principally due to fewer theatrical releases and the performance of Paramount’s legacy slate.
Paramount Pictures, which has been climbing out of a deep hole, turned a profit a bit ahead of schedule. Adjusted operating income came in at $9 million in the quarter, compared with a loss of $66 million a year ago. Due to fewer releases in the quarter (breakout hit A Quiet Place came after the March 31 end of the period) film revenue decreased 17% to $741 million.
“Viacom continued to accelerate progress against its strategic priorities, delivering improvements across key metrics in the quarter,” said CEO Bob Bakish in the earnings release. “At Paramount Pictures, turnaround efforts have firmly taken hold.”
Bakish and other Viacom execs will discuss the results with Wall Street analysts during a conference call this morning. In recent quarters, the company has preemptively warned that it won’t discuss its merger talks with CBS, but that will be foremost on many minds as the call unfolds.