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Viacom Results Raise Hopes Worst Is Over for MTV, Comedy Central

Published on .

Credit: Viacom

Viacom posted its highest quarterly revenue in almost two years, boosted by the acquisition of an Argentine TV network and the improved performance of movie studio Paramount Pictures.

Fiscal third-quarter revenue jumped 8.3% from a year earlier to $3.36 billion, compared with the $3.3 billion average of analysts' estimates. Paramount posted its first profit since the final quarter of 2015, and boosted sales thanks to "Transformers: The Last Knight," the fifth film in the franchise.

With the results, CEO Bob Bakish can point to some progress in his efforts to turn around Viacom, the beleaguered media company just emerging from a fight for control and a period of executive turnover. TV networks MTV, Comedy Central and BET have been losing viewers, and Paramount has been losing money.

Telefe, the Argentine television network Viacom agreed to acquire late last year, helped boost international revenue 13%, leaving out currency fluctuations.

Thanks to audiences in China, "The Last Knight" was a win for the studio even though the movie was the lowest-grossing of any "Transformers" film, with $570 million worldwide.

Viacom makes almost 80% of its revenue from its TV networks, which have suffered as young viewers watch more and more video online. Revenue at the networks increased thanks to a 2% gain in global advertising sales and growth in fees charged to cable and satellite providers.

Third-quarter earnings rose to $1.17 a share, compared with the $1.05 average estimate of analysts. Net income was hurt by $59 million in charges for Paramount, including severance for former Paramount chief Brad Grey, who died in May shortly after his exit from the company. A $285 million boost from the sale of a stake in the Epix TV network to MGM Holdings Inc. added to net income.

-- Bloomberg News

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