NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Powered by advertising revenues at the CBS television network, third-quarter profits at Viacom Inc. beat Wall Street estimates, although earnings were sharply lower than a year ago.|
New York-based Viacom, home to CBS' hit summer series "Survivor" as well as MTV and Showtime cable networks and Paramount Studios, reported a profit of $33 million, or 2 cents a share, off from $97 million, or 14 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter.
Analysts surveyed by First Call had looked for a loss of 2 cents a share in the period.
The entertainment conglomerate scored record revenue of $6 billion, up from $3.3 billion in the year-earlier period -- which was before the closing of its merger with CBS -- with ad sales from "Survivor" contributing to the growth.
Pro forma revenues, which take into account the CBS acquisition, rose 7 percent to $6 billion from $5.6 billion in the third quarter of 1999. Pro forma revenues at the company's cable networks rose 13 percent to $1 billion, led by double-digit increases in ad revenues at MTV.
"The quarter was fuelled by double-digit ad sales growth across the board, spurred by such ratings triumphs as CBS's 'Survivor,' which generated significant prime-time audience gains at CBS, and MTV's 'Video Music Awards,' this year's highest-rated cable entertainment program," Sumner Redstone, Viacom chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
Viacom said third-quarter cash flow, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, rose to $1.4 billion from $540 million a year earlier. It said it was on track to deliver full-year cash flow of $5 billion.
Infinity, entertainment segments also show growth
Infinity Broadcasting (INF: Research, Estimates), in which Viacom acquired a majority stake when it took over CBS, also reported third-quarter results on Wednesday.
The New York-based company, which is the largest radio broadcaster in the United States, posted pro forma revenues of $1 billion, up 12 percent from $619 million on the year, driven by continued strong sales momentum at both its radio and outdoor advertising segments.
Pro forma results assume the completion of all acquisitions and related divestitures of radio and outdoor properties by Infinity.
Viacom also said that revenues in its entertainment segment, which includes its movie studio and parks divisions, increased 2 percent to $792 million, with pro forma cash flow up 37 percent to $175 million.
The results were attributed to higher revenues at Paramount from the success of "Mission: Impossible 2" in foreign theatrical markets, the domestic release of "The Original Kings of Comedy," the availability of airing "Titanic" on television and higher revenues from pay television operations.
Shares of Viacom (VIA.B: Research, Estimates) slipped $1 on Wednesday to $55.50.
--from staff and wire reports