Viacom Increases Dividend

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 |  About: Viacom Inc. (VIAB), Includes: CBS, NWSA, TWX
by: Zacks Investment Research

The board of directors of Viacom Inc. (VIA.B) recently increased the company's quarterly cash dividend on its class A and class B common stock by 67% to 25 cents per share.The company will pay the dividend on July 1, 2011 to shareholders of record as of June 15, 2011.

We believe that the rise in dividend was mainly driven by the company's blockbuster financial results and huge cash availability. The company intends to enhance share holders' value by means of raising dividends or increasing share repurchases. The company has already bought 11.4 million common shares worth $500 million in the second quarter of 2011.

Moreover, Viacom possesses a strong balance sheet with $1,555 million of cash and cash equivalents. The company plans to utilize the excess cash available for share buybacks and dividend payouts.

Viacom started paying dividends from June last year and has already paid four dividends. The current dividend yield of the company is 1.20%.

CBS Corp. (NYSE:CBS), Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX) and News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA) are the nearest rivals of Viacom. Recently, these competitors paid quarterly dividends of 5 cents, 23.5 cents and 7.5 cents with dividend yields of 1.52%, 2.63% and 0.88%, respectively. Currently, shares of Viacom are trading at $59.71, which is much higher than its peers. Furthermore, it also indicates that the company's policy of paying dividends and repurchasing shares have boosted its share price over the past one year.

Recently, the company reported blockbuster financial results for the second quarter of 2011, where both the top line and bottom line exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a significant margin.

We, thus, maintain our long-term Neutral recommendation for Viacom. Currently, Viacom has a Zacks#2 Rank, implying a short-term Buy rating on the stock.