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Viacom Recovery Not Just a Special Effect

Rising revenue and flat network operating income are appealing if not riveting.
Photographer: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Viacom Inc. isn't catfishing you. The owner of the MTV network really does look better these days. 

In the company's fiscal third quarter ended June 30, advertising revenue was up, revenue from distributor fees was up and operating income from its media networks division was flat. Hey, we'll take it! This is the best shareholders could have realistically expected from a company whose TV audience has been shrinking and whose film studio has been losing money. In fact, the movie side of Viacom even posted a small profit on an adjusted basis with help from the recent release of "Transformers: The Last Knight." 

My Super Sweet Sales

Viacom's revenue rose to the highest level in seven quarters

Source: Bloomberg

There's obviously much work to be done -- namely bringing viewers back to MTV, Comedy Central and its other main networks, which have long struggled but whose overall revenue was up 2 percent. It's also going to be a while before we know whether CEO Bob Bakish's big plan to convert Spike TV into the Paramount network next year will be a success or just another Viacom flop. 

Turning the Corner

Bullish analysts were punked earlier this year as Viacom took a tumble, but the stock finally looks poised to climb back out of the $30 range

Source: Bloomberg

Shareholders can't get too excited at such an early stage, but the worst may really be over this time. 

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    To contact the author of this story:
    Tara Lachapelle in New York at tlachapelle@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story:
    Daniel Niemi at dniemi1@bloomberg.net

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