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Earnings Preview: Viacom Inc.

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Viacom Inc. (VIAB - Free Report) is slated to release its fourth-quarter fiscal 2012 results on Thursday, November 15, before the opening bell. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter is pegged at $1.17, representing an annualized growth of 10.57%.

With respect to earnings surprises, Viacom has outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the last four quarters with an average beat of 2.69%.

Third Quarter Recap

On August 8, Viacom reported its third-quarter fiscal 2012 financial results. Quarterly GAAP net income was approximately $523 million or 99 cents per share compared with a net income of $574 million or 97 cents per share in the prior-year quarter. Adjusted earnings per share (excluding special items) of 97 cents in the reported quarter were below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.00.

Quarterly net revenue slid 14% year over year to $3,241 million and also well below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3,511 million. Quarterly operating income was $903 million, down 8% year over year.

Agreement of Estimate Revisions

In the last 30 days, out of the total 24 estimates, two estimates went up while five moved south for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012. For the first quarter of fiscal 2013, out of the 18 estimates, no upward revision was witnessed, while four moved downward over the same timeframe.

For fiscal 2012, in the last 30 days, out of the 27 estimates, there was a single upward revision while six downward revisions were witnessed. Likewise, for fiscal 2013, out of the 27 estimates, one estimate was revised upward, while seven moved in the opposite direction over the same time period.

Magnitude of Estimate Revisions

Over the last 30 days, the current Zacks Consensus Estimate deteriorated by a penny for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 while it decreased by 5 cents for the first quarter of fiscal 2013. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate remained unchanged at $4.18 for fiscal 2012 over the last 30 days, while the estimate decreased by 3 cents to $4.76 for fiscal 2013 over the same time frame.

Our Recommendation

We believe that Viacom is well positioned for long-term growth as it continues to benefit from its predominately cable networks-based business model, strong affiliate fee revenue growth, strong share repurchase plan, multi-platform content, and is one of the fastest growing traditional ad media.

However, stiff competition from other media companies like CBS Corp. (CBS - Free Report) and Time Warner Inc. (TWX - Free Report) along with flop movie releases and mounting debt may act as headwinds for the stock, going forward.

We maintain our long-term Neutral recommendation on Viacom Inc. Currently, the company retains a Zacks #3 Rank, implying a short-term Hold rating.

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