Viacom beats estimates on Paramount turnaround

Viacom reported better-than-expected quarterly profit and revenue on Wednesday, as moves to sell rather than release its movies returned Paramount Pictures to profitability.

To insulate itself from box-office misses, Paramount has sold some of its hotter properties this year, giving “The Cloverfield Paradox” to Netflix, along with international rights to horror movie “Annihilation.”

“At Paramount Pictures, turnaround efforts have firmly taken hold as the studio improved margins and returned to profitability,” CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement.

Viacom, which is exploring a merger with CBS, said total domestic affiliate revenue, the fees it collects from U.S. cable and satellite operators and online distributors, fell 4 percent to $934 million in the second quarter.

Analysts on average had expected a 4.2 percent drop in domestic affiliate revenue, according to financial and data analytics firm FactSet.

Net income attributable to Viacom rose to $256 million, or 64 cents per share, in the second quarter ended March 31 from $121 million, or 30 cents per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 92 cents per share.

Total revenue fell 3.3 percent to $3.15 billion.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 79 cents per share and revenue of $3.03 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Viacom and CBS, both owned by Sumner and Shari Redstone’s family company, National Amusements, set up special committees to explore a merger in February, but the two companies have been going back and forth on price and management of a combined company, sources have told Reuters.

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