Strong Upfront Aids Viacom

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Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown analyst Drew Marcus restated his "strong buy" rating on Viacom Inc., citing stronger-than-anticipated upfront advertising sales for television networks. Viacom, which recently completed its merger with CBS Corp., also owns MTV Networks, and controls television stations that reach about 42 percent of the country. The upfront is when networks sell as much as 85 percent of their airtime that has been set aside for advertising. Marcus expected total upfront sales to top $8.65 billion, up 17 percent over last year and ahead of his previous 11 percent growth estimate. The cable upfront alone reached nearly $5 billion. Viacom's share price closed at $63.75 June 7, down 31 cents.

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