Viacom Inc. has been burdened with succession strife, struggling cable networks and soft box-office performances. The media and entertainment company will report fiscal second-quarter earnings before the market opens on Thursday and Wall Street expects earnings and revenue to have plunged from the year-earlier comparable.
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Here’s what investors can expect:
Earnings: Analysts tracked by FactSet expect Viacom
to report earnings of 75 cents per share, down 35% from last year’s $1.16 earnings per share during the same period. That would be a 36% drop from the $1.18 earnings per share Viacom reported during the first quarter. Estimize, which collects earnings estimates from hedge fund executives, brokerages and analysts, has an average earnings estimate of 85 cents per share. In the last 10 quarters, Viacom has come in below expectations twice.
Revenue: Revenue for the quarter is expected to hit $2.98 billion, according to analysts followed by FactSet. That would down 3.3% compared with the previous year’s $3.08 billion in revenue and a 5.6% drop off compared with the $3.15 billion Viacom reported last quarter. The Estimize consensus on revenue is $3.01 billion. Viacom has missed Wall Street’s revenue expectations in eight of the last 10 quarters.
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Share price: Viacom shares are up nearly 5% in the year so far, outperforming the S&P 500 Index, which is up 2.4% in the year. Analysts following the stock have an average target price of $47.55 on FactSet, which is 3.5% above current levels. The average rating on FactSet is overweight.
Other issues: Viacom’s film business, Paramount Pictures, has struggled. During the second quarter, the studio released a pair of box-office duds in “Zoolander 2,” which garnered $55.97 million worldwide on a reported $50 million production budget, and “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” which brought in $23.05 million and cost $35 million to produce, according to Box Office Mojo. Paramount did find success with “10 Cloverfield Lane,” earning $105.23 million worldwide on a reported $15 million budget, but Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan estimates the studio’s weak quarter overall will result in a $125 million to $150 million loss.
Viacom is still in the process of drawing interest for a minority stake in Paramount. Despite the studio’s weak performance of late, Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said last month the studio has received interest from three dozen companies. Management is apparently looking for more than just a buyer with deep pockets, Dauman said it’s about finding a strategic partner with a foot in international and digital business. An announcement on who Viacom gets in bed with is expected by the end of the June quarter.
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Perhaps more importantly, however, is providing its collection of cable networks with a jolt. Viacom’s media networks have suffered ratings drops as its audience continues to part ways with traditional cable bundles, and networks, such as MTV, struggle to be relevant and connect with younger audiences. MTV Chief Sean Atkins is in the midst of turning the network around, announcing during its up-front presentation to advertisers it is re-investing in music programming.
MTV Announces Return to Music on Day of Prince's Death(2:51)
Viacom network unveiled new programming plans Thursday, saying it will re-invest in music and news. WSJ's Lee Hawkins explains the shift, coincidentally announced on the day Prince died.
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The media company recently inked a multiyear deal with Dish Network Corp., giving the distributor access to Viacom’s lhost of networks and quelling fears Dish would be the first major distributor to drop Viacom’s networks.
Still looming over the media and entertainment company is the continued drama involving media magnate and former Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone. Investors — and Redstone’s daughter — were not in favor of Dauman’s ascension to executive chairman after Redstone stepped down in February. Redstone, 92 years old, still controls 80% of the voting stakes in Viacom and CBS Corp. and is currently at the center of a lawsuit questioning his mental ability to make decisions regarding his health care.