CBS surged past Wall Street expectations in the first quarter, reporting earnings per share of $1.34 on an adjusted, diluted basis, with the company crediting strength across all units. A consensus of analysts had expected earnings of $1.19 a share.
Revenue in the quarter ending March 31 increased 13% to set a company record for the quarter at $3.76 billion, from $3.34 billion for the same period a year earlier. Affiliate and subscription fee revenues shot up 16%, with retransmission revenues and fees from CBS Television Network rising 25% in the quarter.
News of the big beat sent CBS shares up nearly 3% in after-hours trading. They had closed today’s session at $48.74, down a fraction, and have lost 15% of their value in 2018 to date.
CBS has been in formal merger discussions for the past couple of months with Viacom, with whom it shares a controlling shareholder, National Amusements. The two companies were under the same roof from 2000 until 2006 and then held talks to reunite in 2016, only to abandon them over issues of management and pricing. Those same themes have also created bumps in the early current talks, which have retreated behind closed doors in recent weeks. Execs are not expected to address the Viacom situation during their quarterly earnings call, which begins shortly.
Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves credited newer digital extensions with powering results in the quarter.
“We achieved these record results thanks to the many ways we are delivering our must-have content,
including our direct-to-consumer services — CBS All Access and Showtime OTT — which continue to grow
rapidly and are now contributing meaningful dollars to our bottom line while attracting younger viewers,” he said in a statement.
Moonves also said the company expects full-year results to set a record, and he added a teaser for this month’s annual edition of the CBS upfront presentation to ad buyers at Carnegie Hall. “We are confident that the demand for our programming will only increase when we unveil our new primetime lineup for the CBS Television Network later
this month,” he said.