CBS Posts Higher Profit; Sales Gain on Licensing, Affiliate Fees

  • Ad sales also advance as network outperforms local stations
  • Results show more resilience than competitors on cable dial

CBS Corp., reporting financial results a week after billionaire Sumner Redstone resigned as chairman, posted higher fourth-quarter that met analysts’ estimates as licensing and affiliate fees grew at a double-digit pace.

Profit excluding some items was 92 cents a share, the owner of the most-watched U.S. TV network said Thursday in a statement. Revenue grew 6.2 percent to $3.91 billion, surpassing analysts’ estimates of $3.8 billion.

Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves, now also chairman, has repeatedly sought to assure investors that his company, owner of the CBS broadcast network and Showtime premium pay-TV outlet, isn’t as vulnerable to the viewer losses that have hit some cable TV programmers. Still the stock has fallen 10 percent in the past five days, compared with a 6.5 percent drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 media index.

  • Advertising sales rose 1 percent, held back by local broadcasting. The CBS network airs four of the 10 most-watched shows on broadcast television, led by “NCIS.”
  • Revenue from CBS’ cable networks rose 13 percent to $562 million, buoyed by international sales of Showtime programs.
  • Fourth-quarter net income, including charges related to the value of radio stations, fell 37 percent to $261 million, or 56 cents a share.

The CBS network’s advertising sales have grown thanks to stable audience ratings and were up 8 percent last quarter. Viewership is up about 1 percent from last year in the current TV season, as the flagship CBS network remains the most-watched broadcast network overall and first in the younger demographic most important to advertisers.

The company marked a changing of the guard last week when Moonves succeeded the 92-year-old Redstone as chairman. Redstone, who has controlled CBS since 2000, has been in fragile health. He also stepped down from that role at Viacom Inc.

CBS fell 1.3 percent to $43 in extended trading. The stock gained 1.6 percent to $43.57 at the close in New York.

CBS has created online streaming services for CBS and Showtime, its premium cable network, to reach young viewers who don’t pay for cable or satellite subscriptions.

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