Viacom says it will divest its stake in Blockbuster Video by midyear. The company currently owns 81% of the Dallas-based rental chain. Viacom plans to offer shareholders an option to swap Viacom stock for shares of Blockbuster. The ratio has not yet been determined.
Blockbuster experienced a net loss of $983.9 million in 2003, including a $1.3 billion charge during the fourth quarter for impairment of goodwill and other assets. Total revenues for 2003 were $5.91 billion, vs. $5.57 billion in 2002.
Not including the $1.3 billion charge, total fourth-quarter revenues increased to $1.62 billion from $1.58 billion in 2002. Total revenues of 2003 prior to the charge were $5.91 billion, vs. $5.57 billion.
For the full year, Viacom’s revenues increased 8% to $26.6 billion. Operating income was $3.6 billion, vs. $4.6 billion in 2002.
The cable networks division, which includes MTV, VH1 and others, saw revenues rise 19% to $5.6 billion, and operating income rise 23% to $2.2 billion. At the radio division, revenues fell 1% to $2.1 billion, and operating income dropped 3% to $975 million.
Viacom stock closed today (Feb. 10) up 96 cents at $41.35.