‘Transformers’ Helps Viacom Triple 4Q Earnings, Beat the Street

The media giant beats Wall Street expectations for revenue and earnings as its film division excels and cable continues to grow

Last Updated: November 10, 2011 @ 6:44 AM

Viacom reported earnings triple that of its previous third quarter, beating Wall Street expectations for both its profits and revenue and announcing a crowd-pleasing $10 billion share buyback.

Viacom had previously authorized a buyback plan of $4 billion, but it announced on Thursday its intention to expand that to $10 billion thanks to continued financial strength.

Though its network division, home to cable channels like MTV and Comedy Central, remains the largest part of its operation, it was Paramount Pictures that powered a strong quarter. Revenue for the film division rose 46 percent to $1.8 billion.

In particular, one film did the heavy lifting — "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," which grossed $1.1 billion at the global box office.

Also Read: MovieTracker: Has Viacom Cracked the Social Media Code? 

Overall the company's earnings of $576 million tripled the $189 million total from the same quarter last year  — though that number was deflated by a $299 million loss from the sale of Harmonix, maker of Rock Band. Its earnings per share of $1.06 bested Wall Street's prediction of $1.02.

Revenue grew 22 percent over the same frame last year to $4.05 billion, exceeding the street's guess of $3.75 billion.

The lucrative cable business was still a driver of growth, as ad revenue rose 7 percent and rate increases boosted affiliate fees 11 percent.