Shares were up 9.1% to $62.13 Friday afternoon.
The entertainment company's fourth-quarter results were "an unexpected positive for the stock, although not for the typical reasons," said MoffettNathanson founding partner Michael Nathanson in a note.
On Thursday, Viacom reported income of $307 million, or 76 cents a share, down from $394 million, or 98 cents a share, a year ago. Adjusted earnings per share came to 79 cents, beating the FactSet consensus of 76 cents. Revenue slipped 1.5% to $3.43 billion but beat the FactSet consensus of $3.42 billion. Shares closed higher Thursday following the earnings release.
"Yes, quarterly results came in a little better than expectations, helped by a stronger quarter from Paramount and roaring AMS revenues," Nathanson noted. "But, the biggest takeaway from the earnings call was a well-articulated message discussing the benefits of the upcoming ViacomCBS merger."
Nathanson, who maintained his neutral rating on the stock and cut his price target by $1 to $30, said that Viacom CEO Bob Bakish laid out four key revenue synergy opportunities in distribution, advertising, content licensing and streaming.
"Any upside from these revenue initiatives would be over and above the $500 million cost synergies previously disclosed," he said. Viacom and CBS announced plans to combine in August.
Nathanson noted Paramount's strong quarter and "roaring" revenues from Advanced Marketing Solutions.
The company's Paramount segment, which includes Paramount Pictures as well as cable networks MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central and Paramount Network, took the spotlight for the quarter, with three straight years of year-over-year adjusted operating income improvement and full-year profitability for the first time in four years, the company said.
"Since the S-4 [merger] filing, investors have understandably been surprised by the significant projected working capital drains at CBS driven by CBS All Access and Showtime OTT programming spend," he said. "We are now a little more hopeful that a fresh perspective for the newly combined company can take a harder look at whether the returns from this incremental planned spending justify the investment."
On Tuesday, CBS
, but saw ad sales fall sharply, in its final stand-alone report before its $30 billion December merger with Viacom.