The company earned $652.4 million, or 37 cents per share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $42.5 million, or 2 cents a share, for the same period in 2001.
For the year, Viacom reported net income of $725.7 million, or 41 cents per share, vs. a loss of $223.5 million, or 13 cents a share, for 2001. Factoring out the effect of accounting changes enacted in the first quarter, net income for the year would have been $2.2 billion.
All TV operations
Results were helped considerably
Improved advertising trends appear to be continuing into the first and second quarters, said Mel Karmazin, president and chief operating officer. CBS' first-quarter scatter ad sales showed strong demand and few cancellations, while the second quarter has limited scatter sale inventory, but prices are running 50% above upfront rates, he said.
The TV operations are seeing advertising money moving from promotions and other marketing activities and back into commercials, Mr. Karmazin said. Spending is coming from a variety of advertisers, including automotive, packaged goods, entertainment, telecom and others, he said.
Calming investors' concerns
In a conference call with analysts, management also tried to calm investor concerns about Mr. Karmazin's future with Viacom, a source of continued industry speculation. Mr. Redstone said both men are working "very cooperatively" with a negotiating committee to reach agreement on Mr. Karmazin's new contract.
Mr. Karmazin also said he will be filing to sell $10 million worth of Viacom stock, but said the sale is not related to his contract negotiations. The sale is meant to fund a $10 million tax liability created by exercising a block of 10-year-old stock options that are coming due, and the sale represents only about 2% of its Viacom holdings, Mr. Karmazin explained.