CBS Earnings Beat Forecasts, Raises Dividend


CBS reported a greater-than-expected rise in earnings on Tuesday, helped by healthier results from its television business, and boosted its dividend by 8 percent.

CBS reported first-quarter net earnings of $244.3 million, or 36 cents a share, compared with $213.5 million, or 28 cents a share, a year earlier.

CBS revenue was essentially flat at $3.7 billion, even though last year's first quarter included revenue from the Super Bowl and the semifinals of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, two popular events which were not included in this year's results.

Even without those two factors, television revenue for the first quarter of 2008 increased 1 percent to $2.60 billion from $2.57 billion, thanks to higher license fees, including an international self-distribution deal for the "CSI" crime series franchise.

Its outdoor division also turned in a stronger quarter, with revenue up 7 percent to $496.9 million.

The main weak spots for the media company were radio, where revenues on a same station basis decreased 6 percent, and publishing, where revenue fell 12 percent as its titles failed to match last year's blockbuster sales of "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne.

Overall, CBS results came in well ahead of forecasts.

Reuters Estimates calculated its adjusted earnings per share at 40 cents, which it said was ahead of analysts' forecast of 34 cents a share on the same basis.

Analysts had looked for revenue of $3.53 billion.

For the full year, CBS said it expects 3 percent to 5 percent growth in operating income and OIBDA, or operating income before depreciation and amortization, a key measure of media industry profitability.

CBS raised its quarterly dividend from 25 to 27 cents per share.

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