Viacom, the owner of MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, beat Wall Street estimates for profit and revenue on Friday. Photo: AP

INTERNATIONAL – Viacom, the owner of MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, beat Wall Street estimates for profit and revenue on Friday, lifted by the strong performance of “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.”

The upbeat results boosted the company’s shares by about 4 percent to $33.50 (R470) in trading before the bell.

The results are a welcome respite from two years of turmoil over its future as a standalone company or part of a larger player in a merger with CBS.

An attempted merger of Viacom and CBS earlier this year fell apart over disagreements about executive management. CBS sued its controlling shareholders, Shari Redstone and National Amusements Inc, to block the merger. CBS and Viacom are both controlled by Redstone family through National Amusements.

CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves, who led the opposition of a merger, stepped down in September following allegations of sexual harassment.

In a settlement that led to CBS dropping its lawsuit, Shari Redstone agreed to refrain for two years from proposing a merger either herself or through others affiliated with National Amusements. However, people close to the company expect others to rekindle merger discussions well before the standstill expires.

Since taking the helm in 2016, chief executive Bob Bakish has focused on Paramount and the company’s cable TV business, which like its peers has been losing subscribers in the face of competition from Netflix Inc and Amazon.com’s Prime video.

Viacom said worldwide affiliate revenue was $1.19 billion, beating estimates of $1.17 billion, according to data from Refinitiv. Total revenue in its fiscal fourth quarter, ended September 30, rose 5 percent to $3.49 billion from $3.32 billion a year earlier.

Paramount, which returned to profitability in the second quarter, racked up nearly $800 million in worldwide sales from the latest instalment of the Tom Cruise-helmed “Mission Impossible” action series, the company said.

Net income attributable to Viacom fell, however, to $394 million, or 98 cents per share, from $674 million, or $1.67 per share.

On an adjusted basis, earnings reached 99 cents per share, the company said.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 95 cents per share and revenue of $3.37 billion.

Reuters