CBS Beats Q2 Earnings Expectations, Takes $55M Charge Mostly For Stations

Investors are looking for encouraging news about media on a day when industry stocks took a beating. And CBS had a little — beating earnings expectations, in its Q2 report, out after the market closed.

Was it enough? Possibly not: CBS shares declined about 3.5% in postmarket trading, after falling 4.5% during the trading day.

The company reported net income of $332 million, down 24.4% vs the period last year, on revenues of $3.22 billion, up 1%. The top-line number slightly beat analyst forecasts for $3.2 billion. And adjusted earnings at 74 cents a share were ahead of the Street’s expectation of 72 cents.

“This quarter underscores the key steps we are taking to build out our long-term growth strategy,” CEO Les Moonves said. The company is “on target to surpass our goal of $2 billion in retransmission consent and reverse compensation revenue by 2020.” And Showtime’s streaming service and CBS All Access “are generating incremental revenue streams that will continue to grow in the years ahead.”

He adds that he’s “confident this fall’s new primetime lineup will lead us to another victory next season.”

The results include a $55 million restructuring charge, with $12 million from Entertainment and $43 million from its local radio and TV stations. CBS says it should reduce annual costs by $70 million.

In the main Entertainment unit, which houses the broadcast network and studio, operating income fell 23.2% to $262 million on revenues of $1.79 billion, down 2.7%. Ad sales declined 2%, which CBS attributes to the sale of an internet business in China and “the timing of certain sporting events.”

The Cable operation, led by Showtime, fared better — with operating income up 3,3% to $220 million on revenues of $615 million, up 19.2%. The Mayweather-Pacquiao pay-per-view fight on May 2 helped, generating more than $600 million in sales, though it was somewhat offset by higher programming costs.

At Local Broadcasting, the TV and radio stations saw operating income fall 7.9% to $198 million with revenues down 1.7% to $654. Moonves told analysts that he isn’t worried: “The coming election cycle will trump anything we’ve seen before” with total TV ad spending expected to exceed $4.4 billion. “Our TV stations are terrifically positioned to capitalize on this.”

And Simon & Schuster benefitted from best sellers including David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers, Stephen King’s Finders Keepers and Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See. Operating income was up 8.7% to $25 million on revenues of $199 million, down 5.7%.

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