Is the Viacom Turnaround Afoot? (VIA, CBS)

Douglas A. McIntyre

Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA) posted earnings of $0.44 EPS on $3.12 Billion in revenues. First Call consensus estimates were $0.41 EPS and $2.97 Billion on revenues.

This shows that revenues rose 14.7% year over year, and now the company is forecasting a three-year period from 2008 through 2010 where Viacom plans to deliver low double-digit annual growth in diluted earnings per share from continuing operations. This is based on 2007 adjusted diluted EPS of $2.36.

Interestingly enough for 2008, if we take the low-double digit face value and say 11%, we’d get $2.62 EPS and if we take 13% then we get almost $2.67 EPS.  First Call is at $2.66.

If we split the bar there and go for 12% and then plug in the same 12% for 2009, we’d get $2.96.  If we use 13% growth compounded then we get to $3.01 EPS.  First call is at $3.03.

The company has to grow by more than 13%, which is still within the “low double-digit” EPS growth plans.  If tyhe company can achieve that, then Wall Street may be hard pressed not to cheer.  Media is changing big time and the economy is still softening on the surface.

Sumner M. Redstone, Executive Chairman of Viacom, said, “Viacom entered 2008 at an aggressive pace….. We continue to unlock new value…. with our unparalleled entertainment brands. I am more confident than ever that we have the right strategies and the best management to deliver on our commitment to grow shareholder value over time.”

Viacom shares closed at $39.92 yesterday and the 52-week trading range is $36.00 to $45.03.

Its ex-property CBS Corp. has recovered almost 10% from the lows of the last 5-days since its earnings came out as well.  CBS closed at $24.05 yesterday, and its 52-week trading range is $20.68 to $35.75.

Maybe Redstone and friends are turning the ship….. assuming they live up to their own internal forecasts.

Jon C. Ogg
May 2, 2008