Viacom on Thursday became the latest media company to report sharply higher earnings for the second quarter thanks to a rebounding economy and a buoyant advertising market.
Net earnings rose to $420 million, or 69 cents a share, up 52% from $277 million, or 46 cents a share, a year ago.
On the company's earnings conference call with analysts, executive chairman Sumner Redstone sounded particularly upbeat.
"With six months under our belt in this calendar year, day after day our confidence continues to grow as the emerging economy recovery builds. Now of course we're not all the way back, but the light is brighter than it's been for some time," Redstone said
Revenue at Viacom's media networks group rose 6% to $2.1 billion. Because revenue from Viacom's movie business was down 10%, the company's total revenue was up only slightly to $2.1 billion.
Operating income for the media networks group was up 14% to $789 million in the quarter. Viacom said growth in advertising and distribution income was offset by higher programming costs. Losses from the Rock Band video game were lower, the company said.
Domestic advertising revenues increased 4% as the strong scatter market more than offset the impact of a weaker 2009 upfront, the company said.
The ad revenue growth was significantly lower than at Time Warner and Discovery, which reported earnings earlier this week. But Viacom COO Paul Dooley said that the advertising rebound was stronger with marketers seeking older consumers.
"It's important to note that our older skewing networks like the TV Lands, the Nick at Nites and to some extent CMT are very high demand networks and are pacing at great growth rates," Dooley said. "The majority of our demos that we have to sell are in the younger skewing demographics and those have recovered at a slower rate than the older skewing demos. We are seeing an acceleration in the advertisers who are advertising to the younger demos and we think that, combined with the new upfront that we just completed, will help us launch our advertising revenues and accelerate the growth there."