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Viacom 4Q earnings up 13 pct despite revenue drop

Associated Press Modified: November 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm •  Published: November 15, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — Viacom Inc., owner of the Paramount movie studio and several cable TV channels, said Thursday that net income grew 13 percent in the latest quarter even as revenue fell more than Wall Street expected with the lack of a strong theatrical release and a drop in television ad revenue.

Net income for the July-September quarter was $650 million, or $1.26 a share, compared with $576 million, or $1 a share, a year earlier. After adjusting for one-time items, earnings came to $1.21 per share.

Analysts surveyed by Fact Set were expecting adjusted earnings of $1.17 per share.

Revenue in the fiscal fourth quarter fell 17 percent to $3.36 billion from $4.05 billion and below the $3.41 billion analysts expected. Viacom reduced expenses by 26 percent to $2.31 billion, from $3.12 billion.

Revenue at Viacom's cable TV network business, which includes Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and BET, was largely unchanged at $2.29 billion, while operating income fell 3 percent to $933 million.

The advertising environment has slowed for most major media conglomerates, compounded in the quarter by the London Olympics, which saw advertising and audiences shift to NBC and its sister cable networks. Viacom faces additional challenges of ongoing audience weakness at its major TV networks.

Viacom said increases in fees from cable and satellite companies to carry its channels were countered by declines in advertising revenue. Ad revenue fell 6 percent in the U.S. and 7 percent worldwide. Viacom said a 10-day blackout of its channels on DirecTV because of a fee dispute canceled the benefits of the BET Awards moving to the July-September quarter. It fell in the previous quarter in 2011.

In a conference call with analysts, CEO Philippe Dauman said ratings at Nickelodeon were stabilizing, as the children's network ran new episodes of "SpongeBob SquarePants" and launched a revamp of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." He said new episodes of original programs are helping other networks as well.

Dauman reiterated complaints that current measurement techniques do not fully capture Viacom's audiences, particularly online, but said Viacom won't make programming decisions based on old-world measures.

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