Viacom’s Profits Up As Recovery Sets In

Viacom (NYSE: VIA) reported its Q309 earnings this morning, and its profits rose to $463 million from $401 million a year earlier, beating analysts expectations, while revenues declined to $3.32 billion from $3.41 billion. It rev decrease primarily reflects lower home entertainment and ad sales, which more than offset increases in affiliate sales and theatrical revenues, it said. ITher data points:
—Media Networks revenues were essentially flat at $2.12 billion, with solid growth in affiliate sales offset by lower advertising and ancillary revenues.
—Domestic ad revenues were down 4 percent, which is a 2-percentage point sequential improvement over Q209 results. Worldwide advertising revenues declined 5 percent.
—Strong sales of The Beatles: Rock Band video game were offset by lower home entertainment and consumer products revenues, resulting in a 3 percent decrease in worldwide ancillary revenues.
—Filmed Entertainment revenues were down 6 percent year-over-year to $1.22 billion as weakness in home entertainment sales more than offset growth in theatrical revenues. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra fueled a 16% increase in worldwide theatrical revenues. More from the conference call as warranted.

From the call: Even as the execs are touting “emerging recovery”, it is all about costs, costs, and costs.

Phrases like “savings”, “low budget”, “taking costs out of the system”, are peppered throughout. On the launch of premium movie JV service Epix: it is close to additional distribution deals, and should be announced very soon, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said. He was very specific on licensing fee it gets from its networks from affiliates: “Our networks are clearly undervalued: we have 20 percent viewership, while we get 8 percent of the revenues. We remain very focused on closing this gap.” Meanwhile, he is very bullish on the newly acquired Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise for about $60 million. He described it as a “great investment for future at a relatively low cost. We have marketing ad creative assets to revitalize this franchise.”


E! News Launching In Asia

HONG KONG — One of America's best-known entertainment news shows is launching an Asian edition.

Los Angeles-based E! Entertainment Television will launch a weekly half-hour edition in Asia that combines both Hollywood and regional entertainment news in the second quarter of 2010, the international media arm of U.S. Internet and cable TV operator Comcast Corp., said in a statement sent Tuesday.

"E! News Asia" is part of a new push for localized content in Asia, Hong Kong-based Comcast International Media Group said.

E! Entertainment Television has already launched local editions of "E! News" in Italy, France, Germany, Poland and Latin America. The company will also add subtitles to more of its shows that air in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, the statement said.

"The Asia-Pacific region is one of the global media industry's most exciting areas of growth ... The expansion of our activities to include local production is the next stage of our business' evolution as viewership reaches critical mass," Christine Fellowes, the Asia-Pacific managing director for Comcast International, was quoted as saying in the statement.

E! programming is seen in more than 120 countries, reaching 600 million homes, according to Comcast.

Cablevision Profit More Than Triples

BETHPAGE, N.Y. — Cablevision Systems Corp. said Tuesday that its third-quarter profit more than tripled as the number of customers using its voice phone service surpassed 2 million.

The cable TV operator earned $98.9 million, or 33 cents per share, for the period ended Sept. 30. That's up from $30.9 million, or 10 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenue grew 5 percent to $1.84 billion from $1.75 billion in Cablevision's seasonally slowest quarter.

The results beat the expectations of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who forecast profit of 26 cents per share on revenue of $1.82 billion. Analysts' estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Cablevision reported revenue growth of 4.9 percent for its telecommunications services division, which includes cable television and its "Optimum Lightpath" branded commercial data and voice services. At Rainbow, which includes cable networks such as AMC, WE tv and IFC, and other programming, revenue climbed 3.5 percent.

Madison Square Garden's revenue edged up 0.6 percent, while revenue for Newsday rose 9 percent. The company's Newsday unit includes the daily newspaper as well as free daily amNewYork, some Internet properties and Star Community Publishing.

The company based in Bethpage, N.Y. said it expects to spin off its Madison Square Garden operations, which includes the namesake arena, New York Knicks basketball team and Rangers hockey team, by year's end. The separation is expected to boost the free cash flow of Cablevision's cable TV operations, which had seen a drag from Madison Square Garden.

Viacom Profit Up 15%

NEW YORK — Viacom Inc. posted a 15 percent jump in third-quarter profit Tuesday as a stronger film slate from its Paramount Pictures movie studio helped offset continuing declines in advertising and DVD sales. Its shares rose more than 6 percent in premarket trading.

The media conglomerate controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone owns a wide range of media properties including the MTV and BET cable networks and the "Rock Band" video-game franchise.

The release of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," helped Paramount earn $69 million during the third quarter, reversing a $19 million operating loss from a year ago.

Overall, the company based in New York said it earned $463 million, or 76 cents per share, in the three months ended Sept. 30, up from $401 million, or 65 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding a one-time gain from a favorable tax adjustment and a charge for paying down debt, earnings came to 69 cents a share. On that basis, analysts were looking for earnings of 57 cents per share.

Revenue slipped 3 percent to $3.3 billion from $3.4 billion a year ago, in line with estimates.

Its shares rose $1.93, or 6.5 percent, to $31.70 in premarket trading.

If The Election Were Held Today Obama Would Lose

obama35_16955781-1So yes. As the saying goes, what a difference a year makes. Twelve months after the momentous election of Barack Obama as the nation’s 44th president, a poll shows that were the election to be held today Obama might not be so successful.

The Rasmussen poll finds that “45% of adults say they would be at least somewhat likely to vote for Obama if he was up for reelection right now. Forty-nine percent (49%) say they would be unlikely to vote for the president’s reelection.” Ouch. Side note: more women like him than men.

Of course, it should go without saying that a poll like this is held in a vacuum, which does not include real world contributing factors like opposing candidates or running mates. Not to mention the next chance voters will get to check the President’s name off on a ballot is still three years off — needless to say, a lot can change in three years! — but still, probably not exactly the way Obama wanted to arrive at election day 2009!

For her part, Arianna Huffington, whose coverage of Obama during the campaign was generally, shall we say, positive, also appears to have decamped into the less-than-thrilled party. Huffington has penned a new post titled ‘The Audacity of Winning vs. The Timidity of Governing.’ From the post:

How did the candidate who got into the race because he’d decided that “the core leadership had turned rotten” and that “the people were getting hosed” become the president who has decided that the American people can only have as much change as Olympia Snowe will allow?

How did the candidate who told a stadium of supporters in Denver that “the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result” become the president who has surrounded himself with the same old players trying the same old politics, expecting a different result?

The audacity of reality? No doubt the difference the next 36 months can make will help people make up their minds on that one.

As Goldman Turns

For my money, McClatchy’s Goldman series remains the best show these days on business-press Broadway. It’s sort of the “Masterpiece Theater” to Matt Taibbi’s “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” In previous episodes, Goldman is seen selling defective securities while shorting them at the same time and chasing harried jewelry entrepreneurs and bartenders out of house and home,...

Viacom’s Profit Jumps 15%

A stronger movie slate offset continuing declines in advertising and DVD sales at the media conglomerate, which reported quarterly earnings of $463 million.