CBS Posts Record Financial Results for Q4

Sumner Redstone Headshot - P 2012
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Sumner Redstone Headshot - P 2012

Revenue went up 2 percent to $3.7 billion and earnings per share increased 14 percent, but shares are down after the bell.

CBS said Thursday that it posted record financial results for the fourth quarter and full year.

Revenue rose 2 percent in the quarter to $3.7 billion while earnings per share rose 14 percent to 64 cents. By both metrics, CBS came up short of the expectations of analysts, which were for $3.8 billion in revenue and 69 cents per-share in profit.

Net earnings came in at $393 million, up from $370 million.

At the beginning of a conference call with analysts, executive chairman Sumner Redstone, sounding somewhat frail, spoke of a "bright future" for CBS under "super genius" CEO Leslie Moonves.

Despite record results, CBS shares were falling as much as 2 percent in after-hours trading, after rising 1 percent to $42.94 during the regular session.

In contrast to Wall Street's initial reaction, Moonves was exceedingly upbeat about the results, which included a record $14.1 billion revenue for all of 2012, up from $13.6 billion in 2011.

Moonves raved about the Super Bowl -- "We think Joe Flacco's play was awesome" -- and talked of an "endless array of possibilities" as it licenses more and more content for online streaming.

CBS claimed 17 of the top 20 shows on television last week, he said, including the No. 1 show, the 55th Grammy Awards.

"It doesn't get much better than that," Moonves said.

"Showtime is on fire," the exec said of the premium cable channel that has achieved growth for nine straight years.

Some of the shows he called out for praise included Dexter and Homeland, and he cracked himself up by mistakenly referring to the upcoming Masters of Sex as "Masters of Success."

Moonves also said CBS will add $1 billion to its stock-repurchase program, doubling this year's commitment.

CBS is intending to turn its North American billboard business into a real estate investment trust and is planning to sell its European billboard business outright, and Moonves told analysts that plans along those lines are proceeding as should be expected.

For the quarter, three of four categories of revenue rose, the outlier being content licensing and distribution, which fell 7 percent to $704 million. Advertising was up 3 percent to $2.42 billion, affiliate and subscription fees rose 9 percent to $505 million and the category of "other" rose 28 percent to $74 million.