Viacom 1Q tops forecast
April 24, 2001: 10:49 a.m. ET

Media company cites strong cable, television revenue for beating estimates
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Media conglomerate Viacom Inc. said Tuesday first-quarter results came in ahead of Wall Street expectations on strong revenue in its cable and television units. But the company posted a slight loss for the quarter, chiefly because of its merger with CBS.

Viacom (VIA: down $0.66 to $52.44, Research, Estimates) also said it anticipates mid-single digits percent growth in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the second-quarter and 20 percent EBITDA growth in the year.

EBITDA, a measure of cash flow, is a common comparison for media companies.

graphicFor the quarter ended March 31, the New York-based owner of MTV and Paramount pictures reported a net loss of $7 million, break even on a per-share basis, compared with net earnings of $68 million, or 10 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue increased 6 percent to $5.77 billion from $5.44 billion.

The results assume that Viacom's acquisition of CBS occurred at the beginning of the reporting period. It actually occurred in May 2000.

Pro forma EBITDA of $1.15 billion was 15 percent higher than the $1 billion it reported a year earlier.

Viacom cited strong revenue growth, particularly by its cable and television holdings, for the strong quarter. Pro forma EBITDA from cable networks increased 17 percent to $365 million on a 3 percent rise in revenue. Television EBITDA rose 14 percent to $315 million on an 8 percent gain in revenue.

The company's full-year guidance will depend on results of upfront advertising sales, in which media companies sell advertising for the coming television season. The company's estimate also depends on whether there is a strike of writers and actors.

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Viacom warned in February of a tough first quarter because of a sharp decline in advertising spending by companies, many of which have failed in the burst tech bubble.

Other notable Viacom operations include the UPN television network, BET and Nickelodeon cable channels, Infinity radio stations and outdoor advertising. graphic

-- from staff and wire reports