Viacom Rift 'Is Overdone'


Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. cable analyst Ray Katz reiterated his "buy" rating and his $50 price target on Viacom Inc., shortly after the stock was hurt by reports of a feud between the company's two top executives. At a Jan. 31 dinner sponsored by his firm, Katz said, the executives in question — chairman Sumner Redstone and president and chief operating officer Mel Karmazin — appeared together to diffuse speculation that they were on the outs. "The issue of a management rift is overdone," Katz wrote in his report. Viacom also denied a rift in a Feb. 1 statement. After a shaky Feb. 4 — when the stock dropped by $1.47, to $36.93 — Viacom shares began to rebound, closing at $37.63 on Feb. 6.