Riding high after clinching new program-licensing deals and winning the coveted NFL Thursday night football package, CBS Corp. topped Wall Street's profit estimates for the broadcasting company's fiscal fourth quarter.
"For the year, and for the quarter, we had all-time highs across our key financial metrics," CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves told analysts Wednesday on a conference call. "It was our best year ever in every key financial metric."
For the quarter that ended Dec. 31, net income increased to $470 million, or 76 cents a share, compared with $393 million, or 60 cents, a year earlier.
Profit from continuing operations came in at 78 cents a share, surpassing analysts' estimates of 76 cents a share.
Revenue was up 6% to $3.9 billion for the quarter.
CBS said it was on track to spin off its billboard business this quarter. That will help CBS further diversify its revenue base so the company is not as reliant on advertising sales, which fluctuate along with the health of the U.S. economy.
Instead, CBS in recent years has built a strong business of selling its programs in syndication -- and not just to traditional TV channels. CBS recently renewed content licensing agreements with Amazon.com and Hulu Plus, carving out a lucrative revenue stream that previously did not exist.
Moonves touted CBS' pipeline of programming, including its successful new sitcom "The Millers." For years, the biggest comedies on CBS have been produced by Warner Bros. However, "The Millers" -- starring Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale and Will Arnett -- marks a departure from that formula.
The show is the first hit comedy on CBS since "Everybody Loves Raymond," in which the company has an ownership stake, Moonves said.
CBS also is glowing after last week's coup -- winning the auction for the new NFL Thursday night football package, which begins in September. Moonves would not say whether the nearly $300 million-a-year deal would be profitable for the company. However, he stressed the benefits of the additional eight NFL games to the CBS-owned TV stations, CBS' overall ratings and as a vehicle to promote other shows on the network's schedule.
"We submitted a very responsible bid," Moonves said. "It's a good short-term value and a good long-term value."
CBS, controlled by Los Angeles billionaire Sumner Redstone ,reported its earnings after the financial markets closed. Shares closed up 95 cents, or 1.6%, to $61.85 during regular trading and rose 4.3% in after-hours trading. They jumped 68% last year.
CBS also announced that it would accelerate its stock buy-back program by $1.5 billion in the first quarter. It plans to spend a total of $2 billion during the quarter to retire some Class B common stock from the open market.
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