CBS Corporation (CBS - Free Report) posted second-quarter 2017 adjusted earnings of $1.04 per share that beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 97 cents and increased 12% from the year-ago quarter. On a reported basis, including one-time items, the company delivered earnings of 14 cents a share substantially down from 93 cents posted in the prior-year period.
Moreover, total revenue of this diversified media conglomerate came in at $3,257 million that came ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3,114 million and rose 9% year over year.
Further, affiliate and subscription fee revenue of $848 million grew 16% on the back of 25% jump in retransmission revenues and fees from CBS Television Network affiliated stations, as well as digital subscription services. Content licensing and distribution revenue surged 12% to $1,056 million gaining from higher volume of television licensing sales. Total advertising revenue climbed 4% to $1,299 million owing to the broadcast of the semifinals and finals of the NCAA Tournament on the CBS Television Network.
We note that although the shares of CBS Corp. have risen 1.5% in the past three months compared with the industry’s gain of 6.7%, it is likely to get a boost from the recent quarterly performance as well strategic initiatives undertaken by management.
Operating income increased 3% to $669 million, however, operating margin contracted 140 basis points to 20.5%.
Entertainment revenue increased 12% to $2,184 million driven by higher affiliate and subscription fees that surged 38% on account of rise in station affiliation fees and subscriber growth at CBS All Access. Content licensing and distribution revenue jumped 12% attributable to rise in television licensing activity. Advertising revenue grew 6% owing to the broadcast of the semifinals and finals of the NCAA Tournament on the CBS Television Network. The segment’s operating income declined 1% to $346 million.
Cable Networks’ revenue jumped 7% to $571 million primarily owing to rise in affiliate and subscription fees on account of growth of the Showtime digital streaming subscription offering and increase in international television licensing sales of Showtime original series. The segment’s operating income increased 11% to $253 million mainly due to revenue growth.
Publishing revenue of $206 million jumped 10% year over year primarily due to increase in print book and digital audio sales. Bestselling titles for the quarter included Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare and I Can't Make This Up by Kevin Hart. Operating income came in at $28 million, up from $26 million in the year-ago period due to higher revenue.
Local Media revenue rose 4% to $412 million on account of increase in retransmission revenue. Advertising revenue dropped 2% due to fall in political advertising sale. However, this was mitigated by CBS's broadcast of the semifinals and finals of the NCAA Tournament. Operating income declined 2% to $127 million.
Other Financial Details
CBS Corp., which shares space with Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. (FOXA - Free Report) , ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $170 million, long-term debt of $8,898 million and shareholders’ equity of $2,627 million. In the quarter, net cash flow provided by operating activities was $219 million and capital expenditures incurred were $41 million. The company generated free cash flow of $190 million.
During the quarter under review, CBS Corp. bought back 4.7 million shares for $300 million. As of Jun 30, the company had $3.3 billion remaining at its disposal under its share buyback program. The company expects to repurchase over $1 billion worth of shares during the second half of 2017.
In 2016, the company crossed $1 billion mark in revenues from retransmission consent and reverse compensation. The company aims to achieve $2.5 billion of revenues from retransmission and reverse compensation by 2020.
Affiliate and subscription fees are benefiting from CBS All Access and Showtime OTT, whose subscriber base is likely to surpass 4 million subscribers combined before the end of this year. The company has the target of reaching 8 million subscribers base together by 2020. Management now intends to expand CBS All Access in the international market, and it will first start with Canada in the first half of 2018.
Meanwhile, Showtime gained from the successful return of Twin Peaks, which enhanced OTT subscriptions. The company is also gradually expanding its Showtime brand overseas with new deals to license its entire portfolio in India, Hong Kong, France, Taiwan and others.
Moreover, with the launch of Showtime's streaming service; online news channel, CBSN; and over-the-top service, CBS All Access, the company is generating incremental revenue. Management is also planning to roll out online streaming sports channel in line with that of CBSN sometime in the later part of this year.
CBS Corp., which carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), is also well poised to monetize its content licensing and distribution as it signed deals with YouTube TV, Hulu, fuboTV, and DIRECTV NOW. Management hinted that third-quarter total revenue for Local Media is pacing up low-single digits.
Looking for Hot Media Stocks? Check These
Better-ranked stocks worth considering include Gray Television, Inc. (GTN - Free Report) and Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI - Free Report) both flaunting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Gray Television and Rogers Communications have long-term earnings growth rate of 6.5% and 5%, respectively.
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