CBS edged Wall Street estimates for its second quarter, reporting earnings per share of $1.12 and total revenue of $3.47 billion.
Analysts had expected earnings of $1.11 a share and revenue of $3.46 billion.
Revenue grew 6% over the same quarter a year ago, with growth spread across the company. Affiliate and subscription fee revenues were up 17%, led by 25% higher retransmission revenues and fees from CBS Television Network affiliated stations. CBS also noted gains of 70% from digital initiatives, including its streaming subscription services.
The earnings release comes at a highly delicate moment for CBS. The company grapples with an external investigation of CEO Les Moonves by two outside law firms into allegations by six women laid out in a New Yorker article.
Shares in CBS, which took a beating in prior sessions, have stabilized. They gained a fraction today to close at $52.72.
Today’s stock action, earnings report and upcoming executive earnings call also comes on a day that has seen a flurry of procedural filings in CBS’ legal battle with Shari Redstone and National Amusements over control of the company and a possible merger with Viacom. Among the paperwork was a telling service of summons to CBS’ COO and potential Moonves successor Joseph Ianniello.
Moonves, long known for his savvy and showmanship on earnings calls and in other public forums, is expected to preside shortly over a conference call with Wall Street analysts. The call also comes amid intense acrimony with controlling shareholder National Amusements, which has encouraged a merger of CBS and former corporate mate, Viacom. CBS and National Amusements are locked in legal battle and their dueling lawsuits will go to trial in Delaware in October.
Analysts, many of whom expect Moonves to exit the company, had expected strong ad sales in the second quarter from the flagship CBS broadcast network and the ramping up of streaming services like CBS All Access. The company is ahead of its internal forecast of reaching 8 million subscribers on All Access and Showtime by 2020, with 5.3 million as of the previous quarter.
The overall financial bar was high after the stellar first-quarter results reported in May. Revenue in that quarter increased 13% to set a company record at $3.76 billion, on a healthy 16% uptick in affiliate and subscription fee revenues.