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CBS Ekes Out Q1 Profit Gain, but Misses Wall Street Revenue Target

CBS Corp. said first-quarter operations grew thanks to Super Bowl advertising and an uptick in streaming-video subscriptions, and the company trumped Wall Street’s profit estimates even as it missed predictions for revenue.

The New York owner of the CBS television network and the Showtime premium-cable channel said results during the period benefited from an 18% hike in ad revenue derived largely from its broadcast in February of Super Bowl LIII as well as a 13% increase in revenue from distribution and affiliate fees, which were led by growth in subscriptions to the company’s streaming services.

CBS said it had a first-quarter profit of $1.58 billion, or $4.21 per share. Adjusted for one-time gains and costs, earnings per share came to $1.37, the company said. Revenue in the period came to $4.167 billion. Analysts had expected revenue of $4.3 billion.

Operating income in the period rose to $1.23 billion, compared with $772 million in the year-earlier period. CBS reported a gain of $549 million on the sale of CBS Television City and charges relating to a restructuring plan initiated during the quarter.

Revenue at the company’s entertainment operations came to $3.18 billion for the first quarter, up 15% from $2.75 billion for the first quarter of 2018. The Super Bowl’s effects were important. Without it, underlying CBS Network advertising revenues increased 1% over the year-earlier period.

Revenue from cable networks came to $552 million, down 3% from $571 million from the year-earlier period. The company’s cable business benefited from licensing deal for the Showtime series “Dexter” in the year-earlier period.

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