Yesterday, 7:48 PM
- The lawsuit filed by an ex-girlfriend against 92-year-old Sumner Redstone doesn't name Viacom (VIA, VIAB) or CBS in the filings. But sooner than later, the two companies likely face awkward dealings over succession which the suit is spurring on.
- A probate judge has postponed an investigation of Redstone's mental competence until January. Any finding of impairment will put the two companies Redstone chairs in the simultaneous (and difficult) position of defending his ability to control them while working on succession behind the scenes, Variety notes.
- The fact that Redstone (through National Amusements) maintains board chairman decision-making powers means the two companies have public obligations to disclose material details of his health.
- The case filed by Manuela Herzer seeks to reverse the transfer of Redstone's advanced healthcare directive -- that's now in the hands of Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, which doesn't simplify matters for Viacom -- and expulsion from his home.
- Previously: Judge: No need for immediate exam of Redstone competence (Nov. 30 2015)
- Previously: Mogul Redstone denies lawsuit's claim of incapacitation (Nov. 25 2015)
Yesterday, 10:33 AM
- Paramount Pictures (VIA, VIAB) has set home release dates for the two films it used to pioneer an audacious release-window experiment, hustling the pictures out of theaters and onto home screens.
- Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse were released this fall under an agreement with some theatrical exhibitors that the films would hit home entertainment platforms just 17 days after they left theaters (technically, after they dipped below 300 screening theaters).
- While AMC Theatres (NYSE:AMC) and Cineplex (OTC:CPXGF) were part of the deal, along with five other smaller chains, Regal (NYSE:RGC) and Cinemark (NYSE:CNK) took a public stance against the new model, lining up with the traditional 90-day exclusive theatrical window.
- With the 17-day clocks started as those two releases faded, Scout's Guide (released Oct. 30) will hit digital platforms Dec. 8, and the Paranormal Activity sequel (released Oct. 23) will head to digital Dec. 15.
- As agreed, in lieu of the 90-day exclusive theatrical window, the participating chains will get a percentage of Paramount's digital revenues for that 90-day period.
- Previously: Cinemark Holdings not biting on Paramount's short-window plan (Aug. 06 2015)
- Previously: Paramount wins support for window-shortening plan; Regal opposed (Jul. 30 2015)
- Previously: Paramount's release-window experiment draws praise -- and worries (Jul. 16 2015)
Mon, Nov. 30, 7:49 PM
- The ex-girlfriend of Sumner Redstone has lost a motion in her mental-competence suit, as a California court has rejected a request for an immediate medical evaluation.
- "I do not find any urgency" for an immediate exam, ruled Judge Clifford Klein, noting that Redstone sees his personal physician regularly, isn't suffering from a critical health condition, has full-time care, and has Philippe Dauman (Viacom CEO, also an attorney) as his health agent.
- Succession questions have engaged investors in the companies at which Redstone holds control: CBS (CBS -0.5%) and Viacom (VIA -2.2%, VIAB -2.7%).
Wed, Nov. 25, 3:16 PM
- Ongoing drama around the health of Sumner Redstone resulted today in Redstone's team issuing a statement denying claims that he's incapacitated.
- A lawsuit filed by one-time girlfriend Manuela Herzer claims that he is mentally impaired and unable to make decisions in a home that has "become a de facto intensive care unit."
- The suit is challenging an Oct. 12 decision to expel Herzer from Redstone's home, and the transfer of Redstone's advance healthcare directive from Herzer to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.
- Herzer's suit is a "meritless action, riddled with lies, and a despicable invasion of his privacy," says Redstone's statement.
- The health of the 92-year-old media mogul has become a subject in rampant succession discussions at the two companies where he is chairman of the board: CBS (CBS +0.7%) and Viacom (VIA +1.6%, VIAB +1.9%).
- Elsewhere, FBR Capital raised its price target on Viacom to $65 on optimism about its potential breakup value. Shares in VIAB are up 1.9% to $51.86 (more than 25% upside potential in FBR's target).
Mon, Nov. 23, 9:40 AM
- Viacom (NASDAQ:VIAB) is off 1.1% following a Deutsche Bank downgrade coming on valuation concerns, after a few months of price gains.
- The stock is up 30.9% over the past three months (though still down 30.7% YTD). Deutsche Bank's Bryan Kraft says the firm has lowered its rating to Hold, from Buy.
- Valuation multiples are still at the low end for its sector, but Kraft thinks that will stay that way considering its "projected growth outlook, which is lower than the rest of the media companies for structural reasons."
- General entertainment advertising (non-sports, non-live) has been in decline industrywide, he notes, "and this trend will continue, while Viacom lacks sports to offset the impact. Further, we think Viacom's affiliate growth outlook is lower than others' because it has less tent-pole programming and no sports."
- The firm has maintained its $56 price target; that's just 7.4% upside from the current $52.12, considering the price gains of the past several weeks.
Thu, Nov. 12, 1:18 PM
- It's already been a disappointing year full of sliding ratings for Viacom (VIA +3.3%, VIAB +2.8%), which may explain why investors today are shaking off a bummer report for fiscal Q4 where operating income dipped across the board.
- Ad sales slipped in the U.S. and movie revenues fell in comparison to a year-ago quarter that earned Transformers money.
- Much of that may not have surprised the broader market, though, as FBR's Barton Crockett notes: “Viacom’s F4Q15 earnings report overall was close to projections, a result that we initially read as not dramatic for this low-expectations equity.”
- Cowen's Doug Creutz calls Viacom a "wait-and-see story" where valuation is still highly discounted compared to peers, though "We continue to think a lower multiple is warranted due to the steep declines in Viacom’s audience in recent years."
- For its part, Topeka Capital Markets has bumped its price target up to $48 on B shares, from $47. VIAB was trading last at $50.74 after closing yesterday at $49.35.
- Previously: Movie slate hits Viacom earnings; domestic ad sales still off (Nov. 12 2015)
Thu, Nov. 12, 9:27 AM
- Viacom is lower premarket (VIA -2.5%, VIAB -0.7%) after posting fiscal Q4 results that missed expectations as the one-two punch of lower ad sales and a strong dollar took its toll.
- Revenues dropped mainly due to the films group, though domestic ad sales fell 7%. Excluding currency effects, revenue was off 2%.
- An uneven movie slate at Paramount also provided tough comps, as last year's Transformers: Age of Extinction went on to gross $1.1B worldwide, about the combined effect of this year's hits Terminator: Genisys and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.
- Affiliate fees boosted media networks, as revenues there were up 15% domestically and 10% worldwide.
- Revenue by segment: Media Networks, $2.79B (up 5%); Filmed Entertainment, $1.03B (down 24%).
- Operating income was down in both segments: 6% lower in Media Networks to $1.02B, and 43% lower in Filmed Entertainment, to $122M.
- Debt outstanding at quarter's end was $12.29B, down from a year-ago $12.7B.
- Conference call link
- Press Release
Thu, Nov. 12, 7:34 AM
Wed, Nov. 11, 5:11 PM
Wed, Nov. 4, 11:16 AM
- Cable TV networks are sinking in reaction to sharply lowered guidance from Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), which is using its conference call to lower expectations for ratings and subscribers in 2016.
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) was positive earlier but has tumbled 2.6%; Twenty-First Century Fox is off (FOX -4.6%, FOXA -4.9%); Viacom has sunk (VIA -5.2%, VIAB -6.2%); Discovery Communications as well (DISCA -4.3%).
- AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) is off 3.5% and Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) down 2.1%.
- Time Warner is now -10% in reaction to its conference call, still ongoing.
- Previously: Time Warner dives 7.9%, cutting 2016 outlook on call (Nov. 04 2015)
- Previously: Time Warner -0.7% early after Q3 beats on strength at HBO, Warner Bros. (Nov. 04 2015)
Mon, Nov. 2, 1:12 PM
- Viacom (VIA +1.7%, VIAB +2.6%) is trading up this afternoon after forming a strategic deal with TiVo Research and Analytics (TIVO +0.9%) to use the DVR makers' set-top data to bolster its own ad-targeting data efforts.
- The deal with a media company is a first for DVR stalwart TiVo -- and a big step for Viacom Vantage, the ad-tech venture which the company introduced in April after a year of declining ratings.
- TiVo's granular data could juice Viacom's effort in comparison with Nielsen ratings, which Viacom chief Philippe Dauman called flawed.
- Amid a growing number of such offerings, media buyers have told Adweek that Viacom Vantage is one of their favorites along with NBCUniversal's and Turner's.
- Previously: Viacom launches new Velocity division in ad sales (Aug. 12 2015)
- Previously: Viacom's Dauman: Making progress moving past Nielsen (May 18 2015)
- Previously: Viacom launches data-driven ad initiative (Apr. 29 2015)
Mon, Oct. 26, 1:20 PM
- Maybe everybody stayed at home trying to buy Star Wars tickets online.
- In a dismal weekend at the box office, five new wide releases tanked and surrendered leadership to three returning films, led by The Martian (FOX -0.2%, FOXA -0.1%), which reclaimed the top spot with $15.9M.
- Goosebumps (SNE +0.6%) and Bridge of Spies (DIS +0.2%) were second and third, with $15.5M and $11.4M respectively.
- Of the newcomers, The Last Witch Hunter (LGF +1.2%) did best -- which isn't saying much. The Vin Diesel film drew just $10.8M in more than 3,000 theaters for the No. 4 spot. The latest in a series, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (VIA -0.7%, VIAB -1%) was sixth with $8.2M, showing on just 1,656 screens as some exhibitors skipped showing it over Paramount's home-entertainment plans.
- And biopic Steve Jobs (CMCSA +0.3%) went from one of the best per-screen averages in limited release to just $7.3M now that it's gone wide. Despite some critical acclaim for the film, that's barely better than the panned Ashton Kutcher film Jobs did in opening its take on the Apple chief.
Tue, Oct. 20, 8:04 PM
- After a lot of talk about the evolution of TV upfronts, a swath of hyped premieres and political debates and the return of football, TV ad spending for Q3 was flat Y/Y.
- Cable spending rose 1% for the quarter, but broadcast ads fell 3%, according to Standard Media Index. Local-focused spot spending was up 2%.
- Syndication spending fell 6%; local cable, MSO and satellite TV slipped 1%.
- There were few positive signs, but the scatter market rose 6% for the quarter, and Scripps Networks (NYSE:SNI) and AMC (NASDAQ:AMCX) showed ad spending growth, as did broadcasters Telemundo and ABC (NYSE:DIS).
- Local broadcast stocks: SBGI, MEG, SNI, GTN, MDP, TGNA, NXST
- Other network stocks: AMCX, DIS, CMCSA, CBS, FOX, FOXA, VIA, VIAB, STRZA, DISCA
Fri, Oct. 16, 5:31 PM
- Cablevision (CVC -0.3%) and Viacom (VIA +0.9%, VIAB +1%) say that they have resolved their legal fight, and are "entering into mutually beneficial business arrangements."
- The move means Cablevision is dropping a lawsuit it filed a couple of years ago over bundling and carriage. Cablevision accused Viacom of charging exorbitant fees if it didn't carry 14 less popular channels, like Logo and Palladia, along with its flagship networks (MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET).
- Viacom's ratings have been flagging this past year at a time when big providers are facing "skinny bundling" challenges with many consumers selecting smaller channel lineups.
Tue, Oct. 13, 11:36 PM
- The reason you don't hear so much about succession issues at Viacom (VIA, VIAB), Ronald Barusch suggests, is because of a "gaping loophole" in SEC rules.
- Ordinarily, he suggests, what happens to the shares of someone like 92-year-old Sumner Redstone (who controls 80% of Viacom's voting shares) would be meticulously detailed. But an exception applies to investors who owned their stake when the company went public and haven't acquired additional shares since. And that's where Redstone fits in to Viacom.
- The rules have been biased since 1968 toward triggering information based on acquiring shares, rather than ownership.
- Redstone has made general references to succession in statements, but Viacom shareholders are largely in the dark without more standard SEC-type disclosures, Barusch writes.
- Previously: Redstone health still a key issue among unhappy Viacom investors (Oct. 06 2015)
- Previously: Redstone succession chatter hangs at CBS meeting (May. 22 2015)
Fri, Oct. 9, 1:43 PM
- Brad Grey, chairman and CEO at Paramount Pictures (VIA -0.9%, VIAB -1.4%), has a contract extension that will keep him there for five more years, Variety reports.
- Grey's been there for a decade. His new challenge is to build up a production slate that is the smallest among major studios (10 titles this year). Losing distribution deals with Marvel Studios, DreamWorks Animation and Plan B (Brad Pitt) did its part in reducing the schedule.
- Aside from smaller grosses, profits have been in decline for a few years as well. Grey wants to boost the slate and focus on franchises like Mission Impossible, Star Trek, Transformers and SpongeBob Squarepants.
- Previously: Viacom dive accelerates, down more than 17%; Paramount boosting slate (Aug. 06 2015)
- Previously: Bart: Paramount needs to make more films, now (Apr. 02 2015)
Viacom Inc is an entertainment content company. It connects with audiences in 165 countries and territories and creates television programs, motion pictures, applications, games, consumer products, social media & other entertainment content.
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