Expectations were already low for the entertainment company, so investors likely will reserve judgment until they hear about how much progress it’s making with its turnaround effort. Viacom reported Q4 net income for continuing operations of $473M, -20% vs the period last year, on revenues of $3.31B, -16%. The revenue figure missed analysts’ expectations for about $3.48B. But adjusted earnings from continuing operations came in a 91 cents, a penny ahead of forecasts. The numbers show weakness across the board, but Filmed Entertainment stands out. Its revenues fell 37% to $975M with an operating loss of $139M, a drop from a loss of $31M at the end of 2011. Viacom had fewer releases this time and wheeled out the “difficult comparison” excuse; last year Paramount had Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. No mention of how big a hit it took as distributor of DreamWorks Animation’s Rise Of The Guardians. The company also says that worldwide home entertainment revenues fell 43% mostly due to fewer releases, while TV license fees were down 24%.
Meanwhile revenues at the Media Networks unit, where Nickelodeon and MTV are struggling to improve ratings, fell 2% to $2.39B with operating income -9% to $1.03B. Ad sales were the main culprit. Viacom says that their decline was somewhat offset by an increase in payments from cable and satellite TV distributors. CEO Philippe Dauman says that Viacom “kept our focus on creative excellence and strategic programming investment” adding that Paramount “is well positioned for the future, with several upcoming tentpole releases, including G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Pain & Gain, Star Trek Into Darkness and World War Z.” Chairman Sumner Redstone adds that he’s “fully confident that by investing in new hits we will continue to build our outstanding brands and deliver strong value to shareholders.”