May 8 (Bloomberg) -- CBS Corp., owner of the most-watched television network, posted first-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates after buying back $2 billion of its stock and selling shares in its U.S. billboard division.
Profit rose to 78 cents a share, New York-based CBS said today in a statement. That compared with the 75-cent average of 25 analysts’ estimates. Sales fell 4.6 percent to $3.86 billion, shy of analysts’ projections of $3.92 billion.
The decision to sell shares in the outdoor unit, turn the business into a real estate investment trust and eventually divest is giving the company about $5 billion for buybacks and potential acquisitions. The steps put a positive sheen on a quarter when ad sales fell 12 percent and CBS faced tough comparisons after airing the Super Bowl in February 2013.
Net income in the quarter rose 5.6 percent to $468 million from $443 million, or 69 cents, a year earlier, CBS said.
Advertising sales declined to $2.16 billion because of the tough comparison, CBS said. Affiliate and subscription fees increased 9.2 percent from a year earlier, the company said. Content and licensing revenue increased 6.4 percent.
CBS, controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone, fell 1.3 percent to $57.25 in extended trading after the announcement. The stock advanced 2.4 percent to $58.01 at the close in New York and has retreated 9 percent this year.
(CBS plans a conference call at 4:30 p.m. New York time. See Investors/News & Events at www.cbscorporation.com to listen)
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