CBS tops earnings estimates as political spending fuels ad sales

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Big Bang Theory,
Big Bang Theory, Credit: CBS

CBS, which is trying to move on from a sexual-harassment scandal that toppled its longtime chief, reported better-than-expected earnings after political advertising helped fuel results.

Profit climbed to $1.24 a share, excluding some items, beating the $1.22 average of analysts' estimates. Sales also came in just ahead of Wall Street projections.

The results represent a key early win for interim Chief Executive Officer Joe Ianniello, who replaced Leslie Moonves following a sexual harassment scandal in September. He's looking to demonstrate that he can handle the role permanently. TV-show licensing and ad sales generated a 19 percent increase in revenue at CBS's entertainment unit.

Moonves was considered a talented show picker, and investors are looking for signs that the network's programming remains in good hands. With midterm elections coming next week, much of the TV industry is benefiting from a surge in advertising. Needham & Co. analyst Laura Martin projected as much as $250 million in CBS sales this year from political ads.

CBS also is making headway in streaming, helping offset the decline of pay TV. It launched a fifth video streaming service tied to its "Entertainment Tonight" brand this month.

--Bloomberg News

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