Shares are down slightly in initial after-market trading following a report that seems to present more questions than answers. CBS increased its share repurchases and reported net earnings of $393M, +6.2% vs the end of 2011, on revenues of $3.7B, +2.4%. But analysts expected the top line to be higher, at $3.79B. And adjusted earnings from continuing operations came in at 64 cents a share, short of forecasts for 69 cents. At the Entertainment unit — which includes the broadcast network and studios — revenues fell 3% to $1.99B with operating income +19.1% to $280M. The company says that ad revenues and retransmission consent fees were up, but the unit didn’t have the same bump it had last year from the deal to sell streaming rights to shows from The CW network. At the Cable Networks, which include Showtime, revenues were up 10.9% to $438M with operating income +4.1% to $176M. The improvement was partly due to higher rates and subscriptions for Showtime. In Local Broadcasting, the influx of political ads contributed to a 9.2% increase in revenues to $787M with operating income +21.9% to $295M. That income figure would have been higher had it not been for an $8M restructuring charge. The story wasn’t as upbeat for the Publishing operation which includes Simon & Schuster: Revenues there fell 6.1% to $215M with operating income +8% to $27M. The 24% increase in digital book sales wasn’t enough to offset the decline in print books, although profits benefited from the lower production cost. The unit also had a $3M restructuring charge. CEO Les Moonves says that “returning value to our shareholders will continue to be a top priority for us” and he’s “very encouraged by the strength of our core businesses.”
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