UPDATE 4-Advertising, TV show licensing boost CBS profit

Wed Nov 6, 2013 7:21pm EST

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES Nov 6 (Reuters) - CBS Corp recorded a higher profit that met Wall Street expectations as the company collected more revenue from advertising and the licensing of television shows including hits "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "The Good Wife."

CBS on Wednesday posted diluted earnings per share of 76 cents for the third quarter, in line with the average projection of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The company reported 64 cents per share a year earlier.

Net earnings from continuing operations rose to $469 million, a 12 percent gain from $420 million in the same period last year, the company said.

CBS will increase its share buybacks during the fourth quarter, Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello said on a conference call with analysts. The company expects to have repurchased $2.2 billion worth of stock this year when the buybacks are complete, he said.

Shares of CBS, which have climbed 57 percent this year, slipped 1.9 percent to $58.50 in after-hours trading, down from their $59.62 close on the New York Stock Exchange.

Needham & Company analyst Laura Martin said CBS reported strong results for the quarter across its businesses, including growth in overseas sales of its TV shows.

"They're having a great year and are setting themselves up for a strong 2014," Martin said.

The CBS broadcast network draws more overall viewers than any other U.S. broadcast network with its stable of hits such as "The Big Bang Theory" and "NCIS." The company also operates Showtime and other cable channels, the publishing house Simon & Schuster, and radio stations.

During the quarter, CBS stations went dark for a month on Time Warner Cable systems in major markets as the two companies battled over a new carriage agreement. Last week, Time Warner Cable said it lost 304,000 net video customers during the September quarter that included the blackout.

The dispute did not harm CBS earnings, Chief Executive Leslie Moonves told analysts on Wednesday. "The fact is that the blackout did not negatively affect our company's third quarter results," Moonves said during the conference call.

Moonves said CBS secured higher payments from Time Warner Cable, which will help accelerate the growth in retransmission fees paid by cable and satellite TV operators to carry CBS.

"We're now tracking well ahead of the $1 billion dollars in 2017 that we've told you about in the past," he said.

For the just-ended quarter, advertising revenue rose 4 percent during the quarter, CBS said, including a 13 percent gain at the CBS broadcast network. Content licensing and distribution revenue climbed 18 percent, driven by sales of dramas "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "The Good Wife."

CBS is pushing advertisers to pay for viewing of commercials during shows that are watched within seven days of their original airing, Moonves said. Now, most sponsors pay only for viewers who watch commercials within three days when the viewers play back shows through video-on-demand or on a digital video recorder.

"More and more advertisers are agreeing with us and they are making deals," Moonves said.

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