Viacom Net Drops 8.6% Even As ‘Interstellar,’ Cable Fees Boost Revenue

Philippe Dauman Viacom Earnings
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Viacom said profit in its fiscal first quarter fell nearly 9% despite a 4.4% rise in revenue in the period sparked by box-office results for the Christopher Nolan-helmed “Interstellar” and an increase in the amount of fees the company’s various cable networks collected from cable and satellite operators.

Net earnings from continuing operations attributable to the owner of MTV and Comedy Central for the period ended Dec. 31  fell to $500 million, or $1.20 per share, compared with $547 million, or $1.20 per share, a year earlier. The results were affected by special items, which include a tax expense and pension settlement, as well as the effects of foreign exchange. Stripping out those items, Viacom would have earned $1.29 a share.

Revenue rose to $3.34 billion from $3.2 billion. Wall Street had expected revenue of $3.41 billion.

Wall Street may focus on a 6% decrease in U.S. advertising revenue, as the broader media sector has in recent months experienced advertising declines  thanks to burgeoning competition from a slew of new technologies, including mobile tablets and streaming video. Viacom said its media networks, the core business of the company, saw revenue increase to $2.65 billion, thanks to higher fees from video distributors and an increase in revenue from international advertising. The U.S. advertising decline came about due to lower ratings, the company said. Ad revenues from overseas holdings rose 3%, thanks to Channel 5, which Viacom acquired in September.

Revenue at the company’s filmed-entertainment unit rose  6%, to $720 million. Viacom cited performance in the period by “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” as well as “Interstellar.”