Double digits abounded for CBS in Q4 report


CBS Corporation Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone started off the company’s quarterly conference call by calling the financial results “nothing less than sensational” as every division posted gains. Leading the way, though, was Local Broadcasting, the O&O CBS Television Stations and CBS Radio.

Companywide Q4 revenues were up 11% to $3.9 billion. Adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA) gained 32% to $770 million and earnings per share of 46 cents were up 77% from a year earlier.

Local Broadcasting had its best showing of the year in Q4 and the best performance of any sector of the company. Revenue was up 21% to $821.5%, with the TV station group’s ad revenues up 28% and CBS Radio up 14%. Local Broadcasting OIBDA increased 43% to $321.8 million.

“Political advertising certainly contributed to our results, but the resurgence in local advertising was the story here,” said CBS Corporation CEO Les Moonves. “In fact, given the intense demand we were seeing from local advertisers before the election, we could have taken the inventory we sold to the candidates and sold it in the open market at very attractive pricing.”

The momentum is continuing in Q1. CFO Joe Ianniello told analysts that the TV stations are pacing to be flat “even with the difficult comps of no Super Bowl or political advertising.” Radio is pacing up low to mid single digits.

The CBS Network also had a good quarter, contributing to the 11% revenue growth at the Entertainment division to $2.02 billion. Network ad revenues were up 8%, with growth in both primetime and sports. Scatter pricing was up more than 35% over the Upfront in Q4 and is now more than 40% ahead of the Upfront. That has Moonves expecting big numbers in the coming Upfront for the 2011-2012 season. Entertainment adjusted OIBDA was up 31% to $249 million.

RBR-TVBR observation: Chalk up another strong broadcast showing. CBS was even stronger than most – particularly in radio – for Q4, but all of the reports so far have been positive. Local advertising has finally taken off, so it appears merchants on Main Street are convinced that the recovery is real.