Viacom 4Q profit up, helped by 'World War Z' film

NEW YORK (AP) — Viacom's fourth-quarter profit rose 24 percent, helped by the success of the film "World War Z" and greater advertising revenue.

President and CEO Philippe Dauman said Thursday that in addition to the box office success of the zombie movie starring Brad Pitt, the company's film division also got a boost from home movie sales related to its Star Trek and GI Joe franchises.

The New York company, which owns Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures, earned $804 million, or $1.68 per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That's up from $650 million, or $1.26 per share, in the same quarter the year before.

Excluding a gain on the sale of some investments, restructuring charges and other items, Viacom's earnings from continuing operations for the quarter ended Sept. 30 totaled $1.55 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.44 per share.

Revenue climbed 9 percent to $3.65 billion from $3.36 billion, beating average Wall Street predictions of $3.58 billion. Revenue from media networks increased 7 percent to $2.46 billion, as domestic advertising revenue and affiliate fees rose, while filmed entertainment revenue increased 11 percent to $1.21 billion on increases in box office revenue and home entertainment sales.

Dauman noted that ratings rose year-over-year at nearly all of the company's networks during the recent quarter, including Nickelodeon, MTV, comedy central, BET and Spike. Higher ratings allow networks to charge more for advertising.

For the current quarter, Viacom said it expects "mid-single-digit" growth in advertising sales, helped by new programing that it thinks will draw in viewers. The company also said it still expects affiliate revenue growth in the "high-single-digit to low-double-digit range" for fiscal 2014.

For the full fiscal year 2013, Viacom earned $2.4 billion, or $4.84 per share, up from $1.98 billion, or $3.69 per share. Revenue fell slightly to $13.79 billion from $13.89 billion. Viacom shares fell $1.35, or 1.6 percent, to $81.81 in midday trading. They are up 53 percent so far this year.

AP Business Writer Michelle Chapman contributed to this report.

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