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Viacom Stock Plunges 21% After Chairman Philippe Dauman Slams Critics (UPDATED)

UPDATED: Viacom was bloodied, bruised, and decidedly the worse for wear on Tuesday as the closing bell rang on trading. The embattled media company saw its shared plunge more than 21%, closing the day at $32.86 after hitting a 52-week low.

The blood-letting came after a disappointing earnings report and in the wake of Viacom’s newly appointed chairman Philippe Dauman vows to bolster the media company’s falling stock price a call with investors on Tuesday morning.

“I could not be more focused on getting Viacom’s stock price back to the much higher level enjoyed under my leadership just a short time ago,” Dauman asked analysts who questioned why he had been promoted while the company struggled.

The media conglomerate’s financial picture darkened with its quarterly results. Lower ad revenue at Viacom’s cable properties and a weaker film slate at Paramount, its film arm, pushed net income at the company down 10.2% as earnings per share fell to $1.18 from $1.29 during the year-ago period. Revenue dipped 6% to $3.15 billion.

Dauman’s leadership of Viacom, the media giant behind Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV, has been sharply criticized. His elevation to chairman came as controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone has reportedly battled ill health. Viacom has been slammed by ratings declines at its cable networks and declining market share at Paramount.

Several activist shareholders, such as Mario Gabelli, the second-largest stakeholder in Viacom behind Redstone, have called for a “change in philosophy” at the company. In his remarks to Wall Street, Dauman slammed “the naysayers, self-interested critics and publicity seekers.”

He went on to predict that Viacom would emerge stronger from its travails.

“We will not be distracted or deterred as we build for the bright future ahead of us,” said Dauman. “As executive chairman and CEO, I will continue to work tirelessly to secure that future and will leave no stone unturned either tactically or strategically.”

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