Viacom's Media Networks, Ad Revs Soar 11%


Stronger ad sales in its fiscal second quarter -- as well as an unexpected boost in film unit financials -- helped push up Viacom's income to big gains from a year ago.

Net income from continuing operations moved up 47% to $376 million. Operating income grew 37% to $760 million in the fiscal second quarter of 2010. Revenue was $3.27 billion, an increase of 20%. Media networks grew 11% to $2.1 billion; its filmed entertainment unit grew 38% to $1.2 billion.

Worldwide advertising revenues continued to rise --12% higher -- with U.S. ad sales improving 11%. Viacom says this is the fifth consecutive quarter of sequential-period advertising growth.

Philippe Dauman, president and CEO of Viacom, called the company's branded networks "a gateway to some of the most highly valued audiences around the globe. We attracted new advertisers in the quarter and expanded the reach of our content onto new distribution platforms."



With stronger programming from its cable networks -- MTV's "Jersey Shore," BET's "The Game" and Comedy Central's "Tosh.0" -- operating income for media networks gained 13% to $806 million for the fiscal second quarter. Like most media companies, Viacom has benefited from big 20% to 30% or more cost-per-thousand viewer price gains in short-term scatter marketing.

Better still, its film unit -- Paramount Pictures -- swung to an unexpected operating profit of $39 million -- a gain of $122 million, which reversed a loss of $83 million during the same period a year ago.

Just its theatrical revenues alone moved up 50% to $401 million -- from titles such as the animated "Rango" and carryover titles from earlier periods, including "True Grit," "Little Fockers" and "The Fighter." Part of the Filmed Entertainment uint, home entertainment revenues rose 38% to $410 million.

On the TV side, license fees grew 30% to $336 million, due to higher network television and syndication fees. Ancillary revenues improved 25% to $79 million.

Investors were pleased with the news. At midday, the Viacom stock price was up 4% to $58.34.

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