While it still has a positive, “outperform” rating on the stock, Credit Suisse believes CBS will disappoint investors when it reports quarterly earnings on Nov. 2 due to softer ratings for Sunday NFL games.
Analyst Omar Sheikh has trimmed his estimate of earnings per share by 5% to $1.08. The Wall Street consensus forecast is $1.12 per share. In a report that mirrors similar concerns he raised last week about Fox parent 21st Century Fox, Sheikh said NFL games are overall drawing fewer viewers and CBS is down 17%. A host of explanations have surfaced since last season, when ratings first started to show serious decline, everything from cord-cutting to viewer angst about concussions to this season’s top scapegoat: national anthem protests.
“We expect third-quarter network advertising to decline 3% (previously +1%), driven by soft ratings for both the summer schedule and for the start of the NFL season,” Sheikh wrote about CBS. “With only one of the three content licensing deals we expected for the second half announced in third quarter, we also expect content licensing revenue growth to be skewed to the fourth quarter.”
Sheikh still has a $75 price target on CBS, which is about 33% higher than current levels.
Beyond football, CBS remains the most-watched broadcast network overall and has had a strong start to the fall season. Even so, the company’s stock has had a rough 2017, declining 12% since January. Shares today are slumping again, down 31 cents to $56.58.