The company says this is the first quarter since 2006, when it split from Viacom, that it generated more than $4B in revenues. CBS ended up with net earnings of $443M, +22% vs the first three months of 2011, on revenues of $4.04B, +6.4%. The top line is just a hair more than the $4.02B that analysts expected. Diluted earnings at 69 cents beat forecasts for 68 cents. But if you take away the billboard business in Europe and Asia — which CBS plans to sell, and deems “discontinued” — then earnings hit 73 cents. Ad sales across the company’s properties were up 8.2% to $2.46B. At the Entertainment unit, the largest operation which includes the broadcast network, revenues hit $2.54B (+9.5%) with operating income of $440M (+18.9%). CBS says that the Super Bowl broadcast helped, as did a 62% increase in retransmission consent fees. The cable channels, including Showtime, saw revenues of $478M (+5.8%) with operating income of $227M (+11.3%) due in part to higher affiliate fees.
Publishing struggled vs last year when Simon & Schuster had Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs: It had revenues of $171M (-2.8%) and operating income of $10M (+25%). CBS’ TV and radio stations fared better with revenues of $638M (+2.6%) and operating income of $176M (+27.5%). CEO Les Moonves calls this “the most successful quarter in our Company’s history” which puts CBS “in a very strong position as we prepare to unveil our new primetime lineup at the upfront later this month.”