ViacomCBS Higher After Earnings Beat Estimates

ViacomCBS, the New York media giant, swung to a stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter profit from a year-earlier loss on 3.3% higher revenue.
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ViacomCBS, the New York media giant, swung to a stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter profit from a year-earlier loss on 3.3% higher revenue.

In the quarter, ViacomCBS, which has broadcast, cable, film and streaming businesses, earned $1.31 a share compared with a loss of 42 cents a share in the year-earlier quarter. The latest adjusted earnings from continuing operations were $1.04 a share.

Revenue reached $6.87 billion from $6.66 billion.

A survey of analysts by FactSet produced consensus estimates of GAAP earnings of $1.05 a share, or an adjusted $1.01, on revenue of $6.88 billion.

At last check, Viacom CBS Class B shares were trading up 0.6% at $66. They closed the regular Wednesday session up 1.9% at $65.60.

Viacom CBS "finished the year with strong advertising and affiliate results that demonstrate the strength of our core businesses," President and Chief Executive Bob Bakish said in a statement.

The company noted that fourth-quarter revenue from streaming and digital video globally advanced 71% to $888 million. Worldwide, streaming subscribers rose 56% to nearly 30 million.

Monthly average users of Pluto TV, ViacomCBS's streamed cable-channel network and on-demand video service, jumped 80% to 43 million in the quarter. Pluto TV is free to viewers and is supported by advertising.

In television, CBS said it was the most-watched network in daytime and late-night. Fourth-quarter revenue in the segment slipped 0.4% to $3.11 billion from $3.13 billion. Revenue from affiliates rose 23%, offset by a 20% drop in content licensing. Ad revenue was off 1%.

In November, ViacomCBS said it had agreed to sell its Simon & Schuster publishing business -- home of Stephen King, Doris Kearns Goodwin and other writers -- to Penguin Random House for $2.18 billion cash. Random House, the world's biggest book publisher, is a subsidiary of the closely-held German media company Bertelsmann.