Paramount Global shares plunged more than 25% after a dismal first-quarter earnings report. Citing a weak advertising market in its TV business, the company also cut its dividend sharply.
Paramount+ reached 60 million global subscribers and revenue grew 65% year over year. But losses of its direct-to-consumer unit grew to $511 million — an increase of 12% from $456 million a year ago.
The company incurred a $1.7 billion charge in connection with its plan to integrate Showtime into its Paramount+ streaming service and remove certain programming.
Prior to the earnings release, Paramount (PGRE) shares had gained more than 35% this year, but turned negative on the news.
CEO Bob Bakish said in a call with investors said the company is “navigating a challenging and uncertain macroeconomic environment, and you see the impact of that on our financials, as the combination of peak streaming investment intersects with cyclical ad softness.” He added that the company is seeing signs of stabilization in the ad market.
Paramount also cut its dividend 5 cents per share, which will result in approximately $500 million in annualized cash savings.
“The company’s 79% dividend cut is not encouraging, but it was necessary,” said Huber Research analyst Craig Huber. “They should have done it years ago, but better late than never.”
In recent years, Paramount’s television division has perhaps been best known for its “Yellowstone” series of programs starring Kevin Costner and, more recently, Harrison Ford.
Sales for its TV media segment declined by 8% from a year earlier and advertising revenue fell by 11%. Several factors, including higher prices, lower consumer demand across products and services, and weak markets have forced companies to reduce advertising spending.
Bakish also said the company has restarted the process of selling publisher Simon & Schuster, following a failed merger with Penguin Random House.
Reuters contributed to this report.