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).
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
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)
Thu, Oct. 8, 6:13 PM
- In a high-profile replacement for Viacom (VIA +1.6%, VIAB +1%), The Daily Show with Trevor Noah averaged 1.02M viewers for his first week, down 33% Y/Y.
- As expected, there's a challenge ahead in replacing a key Comedy Central celebrity in Jon Stewart, though it's early days.
- Of more concern perhaps is the median age of the audience, which increased to 45.5 years from last year's 43.7 years. Teens dropped out to the tune of a 59% decline, despite the network's youth-focused marketing for the new direction of the show. Numbers in men 18-49 fell 42% Y/Y.
- Previously: Fox debate draws crush of 24M viewers; Stewart gets 3.5M for finale (Aug. 07 2015)
- Previously: Viacom faces heavy risk in late-night host replacements (Apr. 16 2015)
- Previously: Is Jon Stewart worth $100M to Viacom? (Feb. 12 2015)
Mon, Oct. 5, 8:09 PM
- Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI +3%) and Viacom (VIA +2.6%, VIAB +2.6%) gained today amid a solid market rally, despite downgrades by Goldman Sachs (which admits that overall, media stocks it covers are trading at a "near trough").
- The two stocks are "squarely in the middle of cord cutting," analyst Drew Borst writes. He cut Viacom to Neutral and lowered its price target to $46, from $69; VIAB closed at $45.46 today. The firm cut SNI to Sell with a $47 target, down from $74; that stock closed at $51.30 today.
- But Goldman maintained its Buy ratings on Time Warner (TWX +0.7%) and Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX +1.4%, FOXA +1.1%) "because well-positioned, vertically-integrated media companies should be able to navigate a landscape of steady but not sharp pay TV sub erosion."
- Despite the Buy rating, Time Warner came off Goldman's Conviction Buy list amid the more general pay TV concerns. For subscriptions, Goldman sees "2% per annum declines; every 1% additional decline equates to 80-170 bps decline in EPS. The big bundle will not be for every consumer, especially as more Internet substitutes arise, but this will also create new revenue opportunities for some media companies to offset declines in pay TV subs."
Mon, Oct. 5, 4:36 PM
- More than meets the eye and more films on the way: Hasbro (HAS +3.2%) and Paramount (VIA +2.6%, VIAB +2.6%) have committed to four more Transformers movies, meaning the CGI-packed actioners will be a franchise the likes of the Fast and the Furious films, at least in numbers.
- "We decided that we wanted to plot out the next 10 years of the Transformers franchise, so we got together in a room over a three-month period of time," said Hasbro Studios President Stephen Davis. "Similarly, we are doing the same in television and in digital. So stay tuned, Transformers 5 is on its way, and 6 and 7 and 8."
- He called out director Michael Bay by name, though Bay isn't officially attached to the fifth installment (star Mark Wahlberg is).
- "Hasbro simply can't walk away from the lucrative movie franchise that has seen the last two entries top $1 billion worldwide," says analyst Jeff Bock.
- The four-film series has grossed more than $3.7B since its 2007 debut. The last entry, Transformers: Age of Extinction, grossed $245.4M domestically (and $1.1B worldwide) in summer 2014.
Fri, Oct. 2, 12:56 PM
- Viacom (VIA +1.5%, VIAB +1.6%) -- which has been pursuing new approaches into audience measurement amid a ratings slump -- has hired Julian Zilberbrand as its executive VP of Audience Science.
- He starts Oct. 19 with a wide scope over data and audience development, including audience onboarding and segmentation; advanceed analytics (to draw insights and models); and digital media executions.
- He joins Viacom from ZenithOptimedia, and previously had worked at Starcom Mediavest, Eyeblaster and Doubleclick.
- In April, Viacom launched its "predictive engine" Viacom Vantage, a data-driven ad product letting sponsors do custom targeting across its entire network portfolio (MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and others).
Fri, Sep. 18, 12:37 PM
- Viacom is trading up in today's down market (VIA +1.5%, VIAB +1.2%) after using a Communacopia talk to boost its guidance for Q3 domestic advertising revenues, now expected to be comparable to slightly better than Q2.
- The company had previously guided for Q3 to be comparable to Q2, where domestic ad revenues had fallen 9%.
- The company doesn't see material acceleration in what have been "modest" subscriber declines, and like some of its peers is pointing to "tremendous" subscriber growth internationally.
- After a yearlong ratings slide at its TV networks, it's intensifying creation of original programming across the board.
- It also plans to resume stock repurchases starting next quarter, at a reduced level from before.
Mon, Sep. 14, 1:37 PM
- A thrills-and-chills face-off at the box office ended with The Perfect Guy narrowly edging The Visit, but with both films well outperforming projections.
- ScreenGems' (SNE -1.1%) The Perfect Guy drew $26.7M against The Visit, a bit of a comeback from M. Night Shyamalan, which pulled $25.7M -- both well above an expected $15M-$17M each.
- Sony's War Room continued its surprising run, drawing $7.4M to finish third and likely overshadowing the debut of another faith-based film, 90 Minutes in Heaven. War Room, from the company's Affirm label, has grossed $39.2M in three weeks.
- In continuing-film strength, Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation (VIA -0.9%, VIAB -1.2%) was fifth, grossing $4.2M to bring its seven-week total to $188.2M, and Straight Outta Compton (CMCSA -0.9%) was sixth, adding $4.1M to its five-week cumulative run of $155.7M.
Tue, Sep. 8, 3:28 PM
- Christian film War Room (SNE +1.3%) prevailed in holiday-weekend box office, preventing Straight Outta Compton (CMCSA +1.8%) from ruling for a fourth straight week as few moviegoers left end-of-summer gatherings to hit up theaters.
- War Room grossed $12.6M over the four days ($9.45M in three), benefiting from one of the slowest Labor Day weekends at the box office in a decade and outpacing Compton's $11.1M ($8.85M for the three days). It's nonetheless proving a surprising faith-based hit for Sony's Affirm unit.
- New films failed to boost totals. A Walk in the Woods and The Transporter Refueled drew $10.3M and $9M in third and fifth place respectively for the four days.
- Compton has earned just under $150M in four weeks, while Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (VIA +1%, VIAB +1.5%), in fourth at the holiday box office, has grossed over $180M domestically in six weeks.
Mon, Aug. 24, 1:32 PM
- With summer winding down, box office this weekend was down about 7% Y/Y with a lackluster set of new releases. But Universal's N.W.A picture Straight Outta Compton (NASDAQ:CMCSA) scored again, grossing $26.8M to bring its two-week total to $111.5M despite increasing press mentions charging the film with whitewashing the group's treatment of women.
- Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation (VIA, VIAB) took second place with $11.7M, bringing its four-week total to $157.8M. The new entries followed: Sinister 2 (CMCSA) in third with $10.6M; videogame convert Hitman: Agent 47 (FOX, FOXA) in fourth with $8.2M, and American Ultra (NYSE:LGF) sixth with $5.5M.
- In international markets, Terminator: Genisys (VIA, VIAB) is putting on a rebound, taking the top spot due to a big bow in China. The film has drawn just $89M domestically, but its worldwide total is $353M thanks to foreign markets. It was the fourth-best opening ever for a U.S. film in China.
- Stock movements among film producers have a heavy effect from today's market melt: CMCSA -1.5%; VIA +0.6%; VIAB -0.9%; FOX -2.2%; FOXA -1.9%; LGF -2.3%.
Thu, Aug. 20, 11:24 AM
- Viacom (VIA -3.8%, VIAB -4.2%) is joining other media stocks under pressure, as Deutsche Bank cuts its price target to $56.
- VIA closed yesterday at $43.72 and is currently trading at $42.24.
- The bank's Bryan Kraft says renewal renegotiations with Dish Network for spring 2016 are "critical" for Viacom -- with the spectre of Dish dropping Viacom content entirely.
- "DISH has low double-digit market share of the national pay-TV ecosystem, and in our view a nonrenewal is simply not an option for Viacom," Kraft says. He thinks the deal will happen, but that Dish has the upper hand in pricing power.
- "We think that even if Viacom is able to secure a DISH renewal at competitive rates, pressure coming from smaller bundles, continued weakness in traditional pay-TV subscribers, combined with the fact that stronger networks are also looking for healthy increases will likely limit Viacom's ability to achieve the top end of its long term affiliate guidance."
- Deutsche Bank anticipates 5.2% growth in Viacom's domestic affiliate revenue for fiscal 2016, followed by 5% growth -- below Viacom's management guidance.
Mon, Aug. 10, 2:26 PM
- Fox's expensive reboot of Fantastic Four might face a write-off after stumbling from the box-office gate this weekend amid bad word-of-mouth and critical reviews.
- Fox (FOX -1.4%, FOXA -0.1%) inherited the Marvel property and had hopes for a hero franchise that could rival X-Men, though the film will need a huge overseas reception to realize those dreams.
- The $26.2M it earned was below expectations of $40M, ensuring it finished second behind Paramount's Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation (VIA +2.2%, VIAB +2.5%), topping the box office with $29.4M ($108.7M in its two weeks).
- Among longer-term August players, Ant-Man (DIS +1%) earned $7.8M to bring its domestic total to $147.4M in four weeks, and Minions (CMCSA +1.3%) drew $7.4M to total $302.8M in five weeks.
Fri, Aug. 7, 6:21 PM
- A pair of cable TV numbers highlights from last night: First, coverage by Fox News (FOX +4.5%, FOXA +2.8%) of the first Republican primary debate drew a giant 24M viewers, with the help of unpredictable poll leader Donald Trump.
- That's the most-watched primary debate ever, and far more than the most-watched GOP debate of the 2012 race (7.6M viewers). Interest was high with a cavalcade of candidates (10 of the 17 declared candidates in the crowded prime-time debate) and expectations for controversy, or at least brashness, from Trump.
- The next GOP debate is set for Sept. 16 on CNN (NYSE:TWX) -- likely fervently hoping for a Trump boost.
- Meanwhile, on Comedy Central (VIA +2.6%, VIAB +3.1%), Jon Stewart's last episode of The Daily Show drew 3.5M viewers, making it the No. 2 Daily Show ever in viewer count. Only an October 2008 episode with Barack Obama drew more, with 3.6M.
- Of the 3.5M last night, 1.8M were adults 18-49. It was also the show's most social episode ever, Nielsen said, with 117K Twitter users sending 233.4K tweets about the show, seen by 4.3M people.
- The success was a double-edged sword for Viacom: A nice coup, but it highlights the challenge of replacing Stewart with Trevor Noah after Comedy Central (and Viacom nets in general) faced ratings headwinds this past season.
- Previously: Viacom faces heavy risk in late-night host replacements (Apr. 16 2015)
- Previously: Noah succeeding Stewart, taking fake news helm at Comedy Central (Mar. 30 2015)
- Previously: Is Jon Stewart worth $100M to Viacom? (Feb. 12 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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