NEW YORK (
spiked to 52-week high s Wednesday after the media companies reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings.
CBS shares were surging more than 6% in Wednesday morning trading to a new high of $27.72, a day after the company reported earnings of 29 cents a share, significantly exceeding analysts' estimates of 19 cents a share.
CBS CEO Les Moonves expects rates for TV commercial time to rise by double digits during next month's advanced sales period.
"We are very encouraged by the ongoing strength of the advertising marketplace," Moonves said on the company's first-quarter conference call. "Broadcast television is still the best game in town."
Total revenue was relatively flat, coming in at $3.51 billion versus $3.53 billion for the same quarter in the year prior. Ad revenue at the CBS network, when excluding two special events -- the Super Bowl and NCAA basketball tournament -- was up 12% from 2010's first quarter.
CBS said it saved on costs by sharing coverage of the NCAA college basketball tournament with
Turner Broadcasting. On the conference call, Moonves said it was the first time that the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament has been profitable in several years.
The company also raised its quarterly dividend to 10 cents a share from 5 cents.
on CBS and raised its price target on the stock to $30.
Analyst James Goss of Barrington Research reaffirmed his outperform rating on CBS as well as his $29 price target.
"Earnings measures outperformed our expectations much more significantly as margins were well ahead of our estimates, "Goss said in a note to investors on Wednesday. "The excellent profit performance in the quarter suggests both our estimates and price target need another look."
Comcast, the No. 1 U.S. cable operator, was up almost 2% to a new high of $27.10 after reporting on Tuesday a 9% increase in first-quarter earnings.
Comcast's newly acquired NBC Universal cable networks saw a 13% in revenue to $2.02 billion, as ad revenue for the division, which includes
, climbed 14% to $769 million.
Comcast plans to invest an extra $300 million in NBCU in 2011, NBCU CEO Steve Burke said on the company conference call. Management is looking to add new prime-time shows.
NBCU's film division, which includes Universal Pictures, saw an 8.2% drop in revenue to $975 million. Revenue from the company's theme parks gained 16% to $95 million.
The company's broadcast division saw its revenue drop 35% to $1.4 billion. Excluding revenue from the 2010 Olympics, the company said the division would have posted a 4.3% increase.
--Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.
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