Viacom Inc. (VIAB) posted stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings Tuesday and said it would produce more shows with Netflix (NFLX) as it seeks to leverage its content in the face of intensifying streaming competition for viewers.
Viacom said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in December, the company's fiscal first quarter, came in at $1.12 per share, up 8.7% from the same period last year and well ahead of the Street forecast of $1.03 per share. Group revenues, the company said, were largely flat from last year at $3.09 billion and narrowly missed the consensus estimate of $3.1 billion.
"Through strong execution of our strategic priorities, we delivered another quarter of solid financial and operational results," said CEO Bob Bakish. "Beyond the growth at our flagship networks and the resurgence of Paramount Pictures, we took a major step forward in our evolution with an agreement to acquire Pluto TV."
"This service will create a scaled direct-to-consumer offering for Viacom, and expand our opportunities in next-generation distribution and advanced advertising," he added. "With this momentum, we are progressing toward a return to topline growth in 2019 as Viacom continues to evolve for the future."
Viacom shares were marked 1.8% higher in the opening minutes of trading following the earnings release to change hands at $30.05 each.
"The numbers from Viacom look solid, with year over year growth in revenues, adjusted operating income, and adjusted earnings per share," said Action Alert Plus senior portfolio analyst Jeff Marks. "Impressively, Paramount Pictures delivered its eighth consecutive quarter of adjusted operating income improvement, and the growth in this business looks underappreciated."
"In total, Viacom's results reinforces our view of how significant progress has been made in the company's turnaround, and the stock's low price to earnings multiple is yet to reflect this," Marks added.
Viacom said advertizing revenues fell 6% on a reported basis to $1.23 billion, with the international component of that total falling 13% to $323 million. Affiliate revenues, Viacom said, rose 3% to $1.169 billion.
Film and entertainment revenues rose 14% to $621 million, Viacom said, "driven by worldwide theatrical gains, continued momentum at Paramount Television and international theme park revenues."
"Bumblebee reinvigorated the Transformers franchise," Viacom said of the popular film series' recent re-boot. "The film has grossed over $450 million at the global box office to date, and is solidly profitable."
Viacom also told analysts on its conference call that its Nickelodeon division will produce two films --"Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "The Loud House" -- for Netflix in a move it hopes will keep viewers engage across both platforms.