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Thanks to trimmed advertising and more than 1,000 layoffs, though, Sony's music business was up. It earned 300 million yen ($2.7 million) in the quarter—a reversal from 5.6 billion yen in losses for the same period in 2002, even though sales fell nearly 9%.
SONY DOWN, VIACOM UP IN QUARTERLY REPORTS
Japanese Media Conglom Profit Tumbles 25%, While Viacom is Up 9% in Earnings, Thanks to MTV, VH1

Sony Corp.'s profit tumbled 25% in its second fiscal quarter as research costs in its video game division and losses from movie box office flops offset strong sales of digital cameras and cell phones. The company is expected to announce worldwide layoffs within the next few weeks.

Thanks to trimmed advertising and more than 1,000 layoffs, though, Sony's music business was up. It earned 300 million yen ($2.7 million) in the quarter—a reversal from 5.6 billion yen in losses for the same period in 2002, even though sales fell nearly 9% to 126.7 billion yen ($1.2 billion) from 139 billion yen.

Overall earnings fell to 32.9 billion yen ($301 million) for the July-September period, down from 44 billion yen for the same period a year earlier. Sales edged up 0.4 percent to 1.8 trillion yen ($16 billion) from 1.8 trillion yen a year earlier. It was the first sales increase for the Tokyo-based company in three quarters.

For the first half of its fiscal year, Sony earned 34 billion yen ($311 million), down 66% from 101 billion yen a year ago. Sales fell 3 percent to 3.4 trillion yen ($31 billion) from 3.5 trillion yen.

Sony's shares dipped 5 percent to finish at 3,960 yen ($36) Thursday on the Tokyo Stock Exchange shortly before earnings were announced.

Meanwhile, Viacom Inc., the media conglomerate that owns CBS and MTV, reported a 9% increase in third-quarter earnings Thursday thanks partly to higher advertising revenues.

Viacom earned $700 million in the three months ending in September, up from $640 million in the same period a year ago. Per-share earnings were 40 cents, beating Wall Street's estimates by two cents.

Revenue rose 5% to $6.60 billion from $6.31 billion a year ago, driven by an 8% increase in overall advertising revenues, to $2.88 billion.

Viacom President Mel Karmazin said the company was seeing "positive momentum" in its national advertising businesses, including CBS, MTV and the BET cable channel.

Most of Viacom's businesses performed well in the quarter, except for outdoor advertising and entertainment, which includes the Paramount movie studio and related businesses.

Cable networks, a perennially strong performer that includes MTV and VH1, reported 20% higher earnings, and the television group, made up of CBS, UPN, a syndication business and an array of local TV stations, had 19% growth in earnings.

Earnings at Viacom's outdoor advertising business slumped 29%, while the entertainment division's income fell 24%, which the company said was mainly due to higher advertising costs for movies.

For the first nine months of the year, Viacom earned $1.8 billion compared with $73 million in the comparable year-ago period, when the company recorded a $1.48 billion accounting charge. Without the charge, nine-month earnings were up 17%, and per-share earnings were $1.03 versus 87 cents. Nine-month revenue rose 7% to $19.07 billion from $17.83 billion.

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