Things could have been better in a quarter when ad revenues fell 3% — but the end result wasn’t bad. CBS Corp ended up with net income of $391M, +15.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $3.42B, +1.6%. The revenue figure was slightly shy of the Street’s expectation of $3.49B. But if you factor out a $57M debt repayment, earnings would have come in at 65 cents a share, ahead of forecasts for 61 cents. The Entertainment unit topped most expectations with $1.68B in revenue (+2.9%) and operating income of $346M (-5.5%). The company says that ad sales were down due to competition from the London Olympics, and pre-emptions for the political conventions. But the unit benefited from higher license fees for its programming, and rising retransmission payments from cable and satellite companies. At the Cable Networks, which include Showtime and CBS Sports Network, revenues came in at $436M (+3.8%) with operating income of $221M (+12.2%). License fees were down from last year, when CBS had new streaming video deals, but that was more than covered by rising affiliate and subscription fees.
Local Broadcasting, which includes TV and radio stations, also had a mixed story as it reported revenue of $661M (+1%) and operating income of $190M (+18%). The TV stations were all smiles with revenues +7% from political ads and retransmission consent payments — but radio was down 5%. The Simon & Schuster Publishing unit delivered $210M in revenues (-4.5%) with operating income of $38M (+5.6%). And the Outdoor billboard business had revenues of $486M (+1.9%) with operating income of $45M (+114.3%). “The transformation of CBS continues as reflected in these record third quarter results,” CEO Les Moonves says.