It wasn’t a great quarter, but the numbers appear to be good enough for a year-end period marked by anemic ratings and ad sales. CBS reported net earnings of $413 million, down 12.1% vs the last three months of 2013, on revenues of $3.68 billion, +3.1%. Sales were just a hair lighter than the $3.69 billion that analysts expected. Adjusted earnings at 79 cents a share beat the Street’s forecast by 3 cents.
The broadcast company “made significant progress in retransmission consent and reverse compensation by completing another round of new deals, each time at higher rates that place fair value on our content,” CEO Les Moonves says. “We also recently expanded our streaming platform by licensing CSI for the first time. And we have begun to expand the global reach of Showtime in a whole new way through our deal with Bell Media in Canada.”
At the main Entertainment segment, which includes the CBS network, operating income fell 33.4% to $253 million on revenues of $2.26 billion, +2.1%. The costly Thursday Night Football games, many of which were blowouts, boosted sales but ended up as a drag on profits. But the Local Broadcasting unit, with the TV and radio stations, benefited from election season ads with operating profits +21.2% to $292 million on revenues of $785 million, +9.2%.
All told, ad sales increased 4%.
Cable Networks, led by Showtime, was helped by licensing deals and lower costs. Revenues here were up 5% to $499 million with operating income +24.2% to $241 million.
The Simon & Schuster publishing unit had the bestsellers including Stephen King’s Revival and Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See. Still, operating income fell 30.6% to $25 million on revenues of $215 million, down 4.4%.