Viacom Reports Lower Earnings for Fourth Quarter

Media network profits up despite drop in linear ad sales
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Viacom reported lower fiscal fourth quarter earnings despite higher profits at its media networks unit.

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Net earnings fell to $394 million, or 98 cents a share, from $674 million, or $1.67 a share, a year ago. Earnings were impacted by a $11 million provision for income tax. 

Earnings from continuing operations before provision for income taxes were $510 million, down 11% from $571 million a year ago.

Revenue rose 5% to $3.485 billion.

The results were better than Wall Street expectations.

“Our strong performance in the fourth quarter capped off a pivotal year for Viacom. We successfully turned around our core business, with dramatic improvements across our networks, at Paramount and in distribution,” said CEO Bob Bakish. “We also took important steps to evolve Viacom for the future – investing in our portfolio of advanced marketing solutions, digital and experiential offerings and global studio production business. As we head into 2019, we are excited about the company’s evolution and expect to return to topline growth.”

Operating income rose 2% to $708 million at Viacom’s Media Networks group. Revenue dropped 1% to $2.52 billion.

Affiliate growth was up 4%, but was offset by lower worldwide advertising sales. Domestic affiliate growth grew 3%.

Advance Marketing Solutions revenue including Viacom Vantage rose 32%. Vantage revenues were up 75%. For the full year AMS revenue was $300 million and now accounts for 10% of total advertising revenue.

Linear ad revenues were lower, leaving domestic ad revenue down 4% for the quarter. Live events and consumer products contributed to a gain in ancillary revenue.

Viacom said that Paramount Television delivered nine series during the fiscal year and expects to grow revenue by 50% in 2019 with 16 series ordered.

New series include Catch-22 for Hulu and First Wives Club for Paramount Network. Returning series include 13 Reasons Why, Berlin Station for Epix, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan for Amazon and The Alienist for TNT.

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