Viacom Earnings Slip but Beat Expectations

Viacom Inc. (VIA), owner of MTV and Paramount Pictures, posted second-quarter results Thursday that were slightly lower than a year ago but still beat analysts' estimates.

Higher DVD sales and box office receipts led to a 20 percent gain in revenues from Viacom's movie business, and the company cited several theatrical hits in the quarter, including "Blades of Glory," "Disturbia" and distribution of "Shrek the Third" from DreamWorks Animation.

"Tranformers," the company's big summer movie, opened in early July, after the second quarter had closed, but the Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said in a statement he was hopeful the movie would become a new "franchise property."

Viacom, which also owns Comedy Central, BET and VH1, earned $434 million in the three months ending in June, versus $437.3 million in the same period a year earlier. Per-share earnings edged up to 63 cents from 61 cents because fewer shares were outstanding in the most recent quarter.

Excluding a number of special items in both periods, including a tax benefit in the year-ago period and a gain from the sale of MTV Networks' investment in Russia in the latest period, earnings per share were 54 cents in the second period, up from 48 cents a year ago.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 50 cents in the quarter.

Total revenues rose 13 percent to $3.19 billion from $2.82 billion in the year-ago period.

Movie revenues grew 20 percent while earnings jumped to $21.4 million from $4.8 million; cable network revenues rose 10 percent and earnings rose 3 percent to $734.2 million.