Viacom reported fourth-quarter profit of 79 cents a share that beat Wall Street forecasts and Paramount Pictures returned to full-year profitability, though revenue slipped 1% to barely undershoot estimates.
Revenue came in at $3.4 billion for the quarter, down from $3.5 billion in the year-earlier quarter. Earnings of 79 cents declined from 99 cents in the prior-year period, but the exceeding of estimates and other positive signs in the report sent Viacom shares up 4% in pre-market trading.
Paramount Pictures returned to profitability for the full year for the first time since 2015. Despite a 14% revenue slide to $851 million in the fourth quarter, operating income of $54 million improved 42% over the same quarter a year ago. The studio has not had a $100 million-plus domestic box office draw in 2019. Even so, films in the quarter like Crawl and Dora: Lost City of Gold were money-makers.
Advertising in the Media Networks unit has been another growth story after a long period of struggle. The company credited its Advanced Marketing Solutions tools for a 1% uptick in domestic advertising revenue for the year, representing the company’s first full year of growth in six years.
The quarterly report is Viacom’s last as a stand-alone company. It expects to close its all-stock merger with CBS in early December.
“Our strong performance in the fourth quarter capped off a pivotal year for Viacom and reflects the successful execution of our strategic priorities to evolve the company for the future,” CEO Bob Bakish said. “As we look to the future of a combined ViacomCBS, we’re thrilled with the momentum we have to create one of the world’s preeminent content companies.”