CBS Financials Rise on Licensing, Syndication

CBS Corp. earned $244 million in the first quarter of 2008, a rise of 14 percent over the same quarter last year as diluted earning per share rose 39 percent to 36 cents.

The company, which laid off scores of employees at its O&Os in early April, also raised its quarterly dividend by 8 percent to 27 cents per share.

Total revenues of $3.7 billion for the quarter held steady from the year-ago quarter and television revenues rose 1 percent to $2.6 billion despite the Super Bowl running on Fox in 2008 instead of CBS. Revenues benefited from a new international self-distribution arrangement for the “CSI” franchise and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the company said.

Operating income increased 11 percent, principally reflecting higher profits from syndication sales including the new “CSI” arrangement. Operating income for television shot up 15 percent from the year-ago quarter as radio income dropped 27 percent and publishing plunged 32 percent.

Affiliate revenues increased 6 percent, driven by rate increases and subscriber growth at Showtime Networks and CBS College Sports Network. The increases were largely offset by the shift of the Super Bowl to Fox, the shift of key NCAA March Madness games in 2008 to the second fiscal quarter. Ad revenues decreased 15 percent due to factors including the TV writer’s strike.

Jan. 10, CBS completed the sale of seven stations in West Palm Beach, Fla., Austin, Texas, Providence, R.I., and Salt Lake City to Cerberus Capital Management for $185 million.

The company, which owns 29 TV stations, expects operating income to grow between 3 and 5 percent, it said.