Viacom earnings: Focus on cable ratings, ads, movies

A man enters Viacom headquarters in New York.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A man enters Viacom headquarters in New York.

Better ratings and some hit movies are expected to drive Viacom's growth in its fiscal third quarter. The vast majority of the company's revenue comes from its cable networks, where ad revenue is expected to rise year over year, as well as from the prior quarter.

Though Nickelodeon has been struggling with ratings declines, the kids' channel should benefit from easier comparisons with the year-earlier period. In addition, analysts expect Nick's ratings to continue to improve as the channel adds new shows.

Evercore analyst Alan Gould looks for Viacom to report advertising revenue up 6 percent, with an outlook for more positive trends.

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Viacom's studio, Paramount, will benefit from hit "Star Trek into Darkness," which has grossed $450 million worldwide. Digital revenue is expected to be driven higher—in the third fiscal quarter and beyond—by new licensing agreements, including a big deal with Amazon.

Evercore's Gould projects an 18 percent increase in domestic affiliate revenue in the quarter to be reported and mid- to high-single-digit growth in the following years.

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For its third fiscal quarter, Viacom is expected to report a 10 percent revenue increase, to $3.6 billion, and earnings per share growth of 33 percent, to $1.29.

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Maxim Group analyst John Tinker, who has a buy on the stock,' wrote, "Viacom continues to achieve the largest audience over all cable TV channels." He added that the shares are "supported by a large buyback, and the management team seems determined not to be distracted by any acquisitions."

—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin. Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin