CBS Corp., owner of the most-watched TV network, said second-quarter profit increased 8.1% as the company held down costs even as advertising sales slipped.
Net income climbed to $427 million, or 65 cents a share, from $395 million, or 58 cents, a year ago, CBS said today in a statement. That beat the 59-cent average of 28 analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
CBS, with 12 of its shows among the 25 most-watched programs on broadcast TV, is projected to finish first in the season that starts next month, in both total audience and in the younger demographic marketers prize. It would be the first victory in both categories in two decades.
Overall revenue fell 3% to $3.48 billion, below the $3.53 billion average of 25 analysts' estimates.
The entertainment division, which houses CBS, saw revenue decline 7% from the second quarter a year earlier, partly because the semifinals of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship took place in the second quarter of 2011 but fell in the first quarter of 2012, the company said.
The division benefited, however, by growth in "high-margin" retransmission fees from cable and satellite companies as well as higher international syndication revenue, CBS said.
CBS, controlled by Chairman Sumner Redstone, was little changed at $33.05 at the close in New York. The stock has climbed 22 % this year.
Led by "NCIS" and "The Big Bang Theory," CBS finished the TV season in May with the largest total audience and the second-most viewers ages 18-49, trailing News Corp.'s Fox in the group most-sought by advertisers.
The network collected about $2.7 billion in advertising commitments for the new season. The strength of the network's lineup, plus the Super Bowl in February and a key National Football League playoff game should ensure that CBS wins in the younger age group this season, Brad Adgate, director of research at ad agency Horizon Media in New York, said in May.
On July 26, the company boosted its quarterly dividend by 20% to 12 cents and increased its share repurchase program to $4.7 billion, with the aim of completing the buybacks by the end of 2014.
CBS is considering selling its outdoor billboard division. The company permitted bankers to solicit potential buyers for the unit, a person with knowledge of the situation said in June. The company is seeking about $6 billion for the business, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time.
-- Bloomberg News --