Wall Street isn't crazy about local TV, but it's wild about network TV. Both ABC parent Disney and CBS parent Viacom issued strong quarterly earnings for the quarter ended June 30, and The Street was pleased, driving Viacom up $2.18 to close at $71.56 and Disney up $1.75 to $41.87 last Thursday. In midday trading Friday, Viacom was up another $3 to $74.68, while Disney held its previous day's gain.
Largely on the strength of ABC and the Disney theme parks, net income at Disney rose 79%, to $440 million, on a 9% revenue gain, to $5.96 billion. The broadcasting segment-consisting of ABC-TV, the owned TV stations, TV production, and syndication and radio-posted a 101% gain in operating income, to $421 million, on a 24% gain in revenue, to $1.5 billion. Disney's cable networks (primarily Disney Channel and ESPN) posted a 13% drop in operating income, to $241 million, on a 13% revenue gain, to $761 million. The profit drop was attributed to higher programming costs at ESPN and startup costs for SoapNet and several international channels.
At Viacom, reporting for the first time since closing the CBS acquisition in May, pro forma revenues for the quarter were up 13%, to $5.7 billion, on an 18% gain in pretax operating profit, to $1.2 billion. The television segment (CBS network, stations, King World and Paramount TV Group) posted a 48% pro forma profit gain, to $346.7 million, on a 7% pro forma revenue gain, to $1.8 billion. Viacom President and Chief Operating Officer Mel Karmazin told analysts that all the TV units but the Paramount stations posted double-digit profit gains. The Paramount Stations posted single-digit gains. Infinity, the radio and outdoor advertising group, showed a 24% increase in profit, to $457.6 million, on a 22% jump in revenue, to $975 million. The cable networks' profit was up 22%, to $353.3 million, on a 16% hike in revenue, to $860 million.
The company, however, did post a net second-quarter loss of $496 million, as a result of a $698 million charge against earnings related to closing the CBS acquisition. In addition, the company said it took a one-time $754 million charge against the first six-month earnings due to the adoption of new accounting standards at the motion picture division. Thus, net loss for the first six months was $880 million.-Steve McClellan