Viacom Inc. said Friday that its fiscal third-quarter net income rose 20 percent, boosted by higher affiliate fees at its cable TV channels and an increase in advertising revenue.
The New York company, which owns MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures, posted an adjusted profit that fell a penny short of Wall Street expectations, but its revenue came in higher than expected.
Viacom also announced that its board boosted the company's stock buyback program to $20 billion in shares from $10 billion, adding that the company plans to buy back $2 billion in shares under the expanded program over the next several months.
Its shares rose more than 4 percent in premarket trading.
For the quarter ended June 30, Viacom earned $643 million, or $1.31 per share. That's up from $534 million, or $1.01 per share, in the same quarter of 2012.
Excluding discontinued operations and one-time items, Viacom earned an adjusted $1.29 per share for the latest quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $1.30 per share.
Revenue increased 14 percent to $3.69 billion from $3.24 billion. That topped analysts' expectations for $3.57 billion.
Viacom said revenue at its media networks business increased 13 percent to $2.57 billion, boosted by a 26 percent jump in global affiliate revenue that stemmed from both digital distribution agreements and rate increases.
Traditionally, Viacom's pay TV channels generate about two-thirds of its revenue and nearly all of its profits. But an increasing amount of the company's revenue is coming from licensing content to video streaming services.
In early June, the company struck a licensing agreement with Amazon.com Inc., giving it exclusive online rights to key Viacom programming, including episodes of Nickelodeon's "Dora the Explorer," after Viacom couldn't come to terms on a larger, omnibus deal with Netflix Inc.
Excluding digital distribution agreements, which are affected by the timing of available programing, domestic affiliate revenue rose in the "high-single digits," Viacom said.
Domestic advertising revenue increased 6 percent, helped by higher ratings, while worldwide advertising revenue rose 5 percent. Viacom has been struggling with a ratings decline at Nickelodeon, but the company third-quarter results lapped a weak year-ago performance, so the increase in advertising revenue was expected.
Revenue at the company's filmed entertainment business, increased 15 percent to $1.16 billion, as global theatrical revenue jumped 64 percent to $464 million, helped by the releases of the movies "Star Trek Into Darkness," "World War Z" and "Pain and Gain," along with continued strong ticket sales of other movies released in the second quarter.
The jump in film revenue also was largely expected. "Star Trek Into Darkness" has already brought in about $450 million globally, while one of the year-ago quarter's major releases was "The Dictator," which grossed $177 million globally.
But operating income at the business dropped 63 percent to $17 million, pulled down by higher film distribution costs.
Viacom shares rose $3.32, or 4.4 percent, to $78.21 in premarket trading. That would top its 52-week high of $75.09 set July 19 if it were to hold up in regular market trading.