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ViacomCBS withdraws forecast as virus delays movie launches, sports events

(Reuters) – ViacomCBS Inc <VIACA.O> on Friday withdrew its forecast for the year as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and related lockdowns force the media conglomerate to delay movie releases.

The company said the impact on its businesses could be material to its results, cash flows and financial position. It was also working on cost-savings initiatives to mitigate some of the impact.

ViacomCBS had earlier forecast 2020 adjusted earnings of between $5.15 and $5.50, and mid-single-digit revenue growth, or about $29.2 billion, if revenue were to rise by 5%. Wall Street analysts expected 2020 revenue of $29.74 billion.

Companies such as ViacomCBS and Walt Disney Co <DIS.N> have been forced to delay theatrical release of movies and suffered from the rescheduling of sports events for which they held broadcast rights.

Summer blockbuster season was scheduled to kick off on May 1 with the release of Disney’s Marvel adventure “Black Widow,” followed by a new “Fast and Furious” spectacle from Comcast’s <CMCSA.O> Universal Pictures, a “Top Gun” sequel from ViacomCBS and other big-budget action flicks.

“While ViacomCBS has experienced production delays, the company has seen increased viewership across its broadcast and cable properties, and is utilizing its deep library of content to mitigate in part the impact of those delays,” the company said in a regulatory filing.

ViacomCBS, which has been preparing to launch a subscription streaming video service, reaffirmed that it expects to exit 2020 with about 16 million domestic streaming subscribers.

(Reporting by Akanksha Rana and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shailesh Kuber)