CBS beat Wall Street’s earnings expectations for the June quarter, it just disclosed with the release of its latest financial report. But it might not have a big impact on the stock at a time when investors are eager to hear about future developments including the upcoming Star Trek series on CBS All Access and the speculated possibility that CBS will re-merge with Viacom.
The broadcaster wound up Q2 with $423 million in net earnings, up 27.4% from the period last year, on revenues of $3.29 billion, up 2.1%. The top line was ahead of the $3.21 billion that analysts anticipated. Adjusted earnings at 97 cents a share topped expectations for 86 cents.
Retransmission consent and reverse compensation “grew 44% and remain on track to surpass $1 billion in revenue this year,” CEO Les Moonves says. In addition, content licensing “was up 16%, thanks to lucrative international deals for our Star Trek library programming that will continue to benefit us as new episodes launch in January. All of these high-margin revenue streams will become an even bigger part of our revenue mix next year, when we expect to complete the separation of our radio business and intensify our focus on our core content strategy.”
At the main Entertainment unit, which includes the CBS broadcast network, revenues were up 9% to $1.95 billion, while operating income soared 34%to $351 million.
Ad sales fell 3% without the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which it had last year. All things being equal, sales would have been up 2%, a big slow down from Q1 when sales were up 12.3%.
But affiliate and subscription fees, which include retransmission consent payments as well as CBS All Access revenues, were up 59%.
In the Cable Networks operation, led by Showtime, revenues fell 13% to $536 million, while operating income increased 3% to $227 million. Much of the change was due to the fact that last year included the heavyweight boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, which was the highest-grossing pay-per-view event ever. That cut revenues, but also costs, for this year’s Q2.
At the local TV and radio stations, revenues fell 1% to $647 million, while operating income rose 7% to $212 million. The company attributes much of the revenue drop to the lack of the NCAA tournament and lower radio ad sales.
And at the Simon & Schuster publishing unit, revenues fell 6% to $187 million with operating income up 4% to $26 million. Successes in the period include Stephen King’s End Of Watch and Brad Thor’s Foreign Agent.