Viacom surges

Viacom, owner of cable networks MTV and Nickelodeon, saw stock jump after the company doubled its stock buyback programme to $20 billion – more than half its market value.

Viacom, which relies on its television business for more than 90 per cent of annual operating income, is benefiting from steady gains in licensing fees paid by cable and satellite systems that carry the company’s networks. While younger viewers are watching MTV and Nickelodeon less, advertisers have few alternatives to reach those age groups.

Viacom, controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone, said it will continue its current pace of share repurchases — except for the next few months, when it will acquire an additional $2 billion in shares, it said. The company’s market value at yesterday’s close was $36.1 billion.

Net income increased 20 per cent to $643 million, from $534 million, a year earlier. Sales rose 14 per cent to $3.69 billion.

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