CBS Reports Higher Q4 Earnings

Programmer Announces $1 Billion Stock Buyback Plan

CBS reported higher fourth-quarter earnings and announced plans to buy back $1 billion of its stock.

Fourth-quarter net earnings rose to $393 million, or 60 cents a share, from $351 million, or 55 cents, compared to a year ago.

Revenues rose 2% to $3.7 billion in the quarter. Ad revenues were up 3%, including political spending. Affiliate and subscription fee revenues were up 9%.

"CBS had a record year in 2012, as well as a record fourth quarter, and the momentum is building for an even better 2013," said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO, CBS Corp. "Advertising revenue is growing, and our revenue from non-advertising sources continues to grow even faster. This includes new recently signed streaming, retransmission consent and reverse compensation deals as well as ongoing strength in domestic and international syndication sales.

"We feel very good about our future, and we are very encouraged by the strength of our core businesses and the increasing premium we are able to command for our content."

CBS also announced plans to repurchase $1 billion of its stock in 2013. The move doubles that amount of stock the company had previously planned to buy.

"Our plan to repurchase an additional $1 billion shares of CBS stock this year demonstrates both the confidence we have in our future and the commitment we have to our shareholders," Moonves said. "Our growing sources of high-margin, non-advertising revenue, along with the strategic initiatives we announced for our Outdoor segment last month, are transforming CBS into a company that is more reliant on steady and recurring revenue streams. As the evolution of CBS continues, we believe this stock buyback represents the best use of our cash and is in the best interest of our shareholders."

At CBS' Entertainment unit, which includes the CBS Television Network and studios, operating income rose 3% to $328 million. Revenues were flat at $1.99 billion. Higher ad revenues and affiliate fees were offset by lower streaming video sale from a year ago when the CW's streaming deal went into effect.

Cable operating income rose 6% to $184 million.

Local broadcasting registered a 22% increase in operating income to $325 million. Revenues were up 9% to $787 million reflecting higher political advertising and retransmission revenues.