Adjusted earnings per share came in at $1.24, ahead of the consensus estimate of $1.22 and a 12% bump from $1.11 a share in the year-ago period. Total revenue inched up 3% to $3.26 billion, about $20 million better than expected.
The revenue and earnings marks both set CBS records for the third quarter.
Digital initiatives grew 79% in the quarter, which the company ascribed to gains in subscription services and retransmission revenues and fees from CBS affiliates. Advertising revenues for the third quarter of 2018 were up 14%, including revenues from Australia’s Network 10, which the company acquired in the fall of 2017, plus higher political ad sales.
Today’s conference call with analysts to discuss the third-quarter numbers is the first presided over by Acting CEO Joe Ianniello. The company vet is known on Wall Street and took part in earnings calls and other investor messages during a long stint as the No. 2 exec under Moonves. He was given the top job on an interim basis in September after allegations of sexual misconduct by Moonves published by the New Yorker toppled the former CEO.
As Deadline has reported, Ianniello is viewed as a contender for the top job. Some company insiders, however, have expressed concern that he has displayed shades of green while presiding over top-to-bottom changes and getting up to speed on some areas of the business.
From Wall Street’s point of view, all was not lost once Moonves was out, and CBS is seen as a solid if tradition-bound company hemmed in by its ownership structure and the power of controlling shareholder, National Amusements. CBS stock has rallied since July 27, when the New Yorker published the first of two investigative stories about Moonves. Shares plunged nearly 12%, falling to a low of $50.91, in the first full day of trading after the exposé. Despite significant volatility over the past two months, they have gained ground of late, rising 2% today to close at $58.44.