With declining ratings at its cable networks and a light film slate, analysts didn’t expect much from Viacom in the quarter that ended in June. But it missed even the Street’s modest predictions. The company reported net earnings of $534M, -7% vs the same period last year, on revenues of $3.24B, -13.9%. The revenue figure is short of the $3.49B that analysts forecast. And adjusted earnings for continuing operations at 97 cents a share missed the Street’s $1.00 target. Revenue at the Media Networks, the core business, was -5% to $2.3B while operating income was -10% to $934M. Analysts expected to see a drop considering the ratings decline in the quarter at most of Viacom’s channels including Nickelodeon, Nick-at-Nite, MTV, and Comedy Central. But the -7% in domestic ad revenues and -9% worldwide may come as a surprise; several company watchers were looking for just a 4% slip in ad sales. Payments from pay TV distributors also fell 1%. Viacom says that the operation was hurt by “the timing of event-driven programming compared with the prior year’s quarter.” Meanwhile, revenues fell 29% to $1B, and operating income was -6% to $46M, at the Filmed Entertainment unit which includes Paramount. The slate in this year’s quarter — led by Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, The Dictator, and Titanic 3D — was no match for last year which included Kung Fu Panda 2, Thor, Super 8, and Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. In addition, worldwide home video sales dropped 8% while worldwide TV license fees were -24%.
Comments from the company chiefs were uncharacteristically subdued. Chairman Sumner Redstone said that he’s “confident that Viacom’s unrivaled portfolio of powerful brands will continue to grow.” And CEO Philippe Dauman says that “Looking forward, we will continue to operate efficiently to maintain our competitive and creative edge, and over time, return significant value to shareholders.”