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Viacom's Improving Results Spoiled by Chinese Film Financing Snag

After months, years, nearly a lost decade, Viacom Inc. (VIAB) on Thursday, Aug. 3, showed signs of improving fundamentals as the pace of an advertising sales decline slowed in the second quarter of 2017 and Paramount Pictures reported its first quarter of positive operating income in nearly two years.

Viacom posted earnings per share of $1.17 for its fiscal third quarter, ended June 30, beating the consensus estimate of $1.05 per share. Revenue also surpassed projections, as sales totaled $3.36 billion, compared with an average forecast of $3.32 billion, according to a Bloomberg survey of 27 analysts who cover the stock.

Yet after-market trading turned negative on Aug. 3 after finance chief Wade Davis said the Chinese film company Huahua Media had missed a payment as part of a $1 billion slate-financing deal. Davis sought to ease concerns saying that the deal itself is "still on track."

Nonetheless, shares of Viacom were tumbling 7.6% after closing on Thursday at $35.07.

Executives of Viacom...