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Sat, Mar 03, 2001 EST
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Viacom Net Income Falls Sharply
Associated Press
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NEW YORK — Viacom Inc. reported a sharp drop in fourth-quarter net earnings Wednesday on Internet losses and a goodwill writedown related to its merger with CBS. Revenues and cash earnings rose.

The media conglomerate, whose holdings include MTV, Blockbuster, the Paramount movie studio and Simon & Schuster, reported net earnings of $30.4 million including the charges, down from $133.1 million a year ago.

Viacom said that its pre-tax cash flow, excluding the $99 million Internet writeoff and other one-time factors, rose 17 percent to $1.36 billion to $1.17 billion, while revenues grew 5 percent to $6.35 billion from $6.04 billion. The year-ago figures have been adjusted to include the merger with CBS, which closed last May.

Earnings excluding the charges came to $76 million, or 5 cents per share, above analysts' estimates of 3 cents a share, as reported by First Call/Thomson Financial.

Shares of Viacom were down $1.64 at $52.07 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Viacom said it expects "modest" growth in the first quarter of 2001 compared to the same period last year, when a boom of advertising from dot-com companies boosted results across the board.

For the full year, Viacom had a net loss of $816.1 million due to merger writedowns and an accounting charge on its film library, compared to 1999 net earnings of $334 million.

Full-year cash flow rose 18 percent to $5.02 billion from $4.26 billion as revenues rose 8 percent to $23.36 billion from $21.70 billion in 1999.

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