CBS earnings: 78 cents per share, vs estimates of 75 cents a share

CBS beats on top, bottom line

CBS reported quarterly earnings and sales on Thursday that topped analysts' expectations, as rising affiliate and subscription fees offset sluggishness in licensing and distribution.

Shares of the media company were more than 1 percent higher in extended trading. (Click here to get the latest quotes.)

CBS posted first-quarter earnings of 78 cents per share, up from 77 cents a year earlier. Revenue totaled $3.5 billion, down slightly from $3.57 billion as local broadcast ad sales took a hit.

Pedestrians walk by the CBS headquarters building in New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Analysts had expected the company to report earnings of 75 cents a share on $3.45 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

"CBS turned in another quarter of record EPS, and our investment in world-class content will lay the foundation to drive future profits," said Leslie Moonves, CBS president and CEO, in a release.

The company touted growth in CBS All Access, the over-the-top service it has developed as consumers put a premium on choice and streaming content. All Access has expanded to half of the United States and CBS expects it to reach 75 percent of American households by the end of the year, Moonves said in the release.

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Higher rates drove an 11 percent jump in affiliate and subscription fees from a year earlier. But content licensing and distribution revenues dropped 4 percent.

Entertainment sales, the company's largest segment declined to $2.26 billion in the quarter. Ad sales fell to $1.78 billion from $1.87 billion in the year-earlier period.

Succession plans became a focus for the company earlier Thursday, after Sumner Redstone, executive chairman of CBS and chairman and CEO of National Amusements, batted away some speculation.

"Decisions about how will succeed me as chairman of CBS and Viacom will be made by the boards," not by any individual, Redstone said, according to Reuters. "Such decisions have not yet been made."

Redstone added in the release Thursday that he was confident Moonves and other executives "have the strategy to keep CBS at the top of its game for many years to come."

—Reuters contributed to this report.