Earnings: Challenging Fourth Quarter For Viacom, But Few Surprises

This story was written by Rory Maher.
Viacom's Q4 results were essentially in-line with consensus expectations, putting an exclamation point on the challenges other media companies were facing during the past couple weeks. Consolidated revenue was flat versus last year at $4.2 billion while operating income declined 51 percent to $475 million, driven primarily by a one-time restructuring charge of $454 million. EPS from continuing operations were $0.76/share, down 10 percent from 2007. Media networks and filmed entertainment generated weak results, bolstered by strength from affiliate and theatrical divisions.

Media Networks: Revenue from media networks grew 1 percent to $2.5 billion, driven by strong worldwide affiliate revenue gains of 12 percent.  Worldwide ad revenue declined 3 percent during the quarter.

Filmed Entertainment: Revenue from filmed entertainment declined 2 percent to $1.8 billion, weakened by 6 percent declines in DVD revenue.

Many analysts had lowered their estimates in earnings previews during the last few weeks so investors will likely not be surprised by the results, especially after weak guidance from media companies that have already announced earnings have likely been priced into most media stocks.  The company did not provide 2009 guidance, but we will be listening for it on the earnings call.

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By Rory Maher