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CBS Profit Rises

The first quarter is in line.
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posted a small rise in first-quarter profit as radio results lagged.

The New York media company made $226.9 million, or 30 cents per share, for the quarter ended March 31, compared with the year-ago continuing-operations profit of $225 million, or 28 cents a share. A year ago CBS was was still part of




Revenues rose nearly 4% from the previous year to $3.58 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected the company to earn 27 cents per share on $3.5 billion in revenue.

"We have clearly built strong momentum during our first three months," said chief executive Les Moonves. "Our strong double-digit free cash flow growth demonstrates that we are successfully leveraging the revenue growth produced by our core operations. Our television segment continues to perform well, led by significant revenue growth at CBS Paramount Television, Showtime and our television stations; and our industry-leading network is extremely well positioned. I'm particularly pleased with the performance of outdoor, where profits are up dramatically as a result of strong North America revenue growth and our strategy to exit less-profitable transit contracts."

CBS Radio, however, was a drag on results. Revenue at the division slid 6% to $435 million. The company said that reflects ongoing weakness in the radio ad market and programming changes. "Radio, which has extremely valuable assets, is our one segment that is not yet achieving acceptable growth," said Moonves.

Television revenue at CBS and UPN networks and stations increased 5% to $2.5 billion.

Results at CBS Outdoor grew 5%. Revenues increased in North America by double digits but declined 4% in Europe.

Speaking on the company conference call, Moonves was dismissive of speculation regarding an acquisition of Spanish broadcaster



. He cited regulatory hurdles, saying that "we're not looking for an acquisition of that size."

The company said plans to offload its Paramount theme parks will be finalized during the second half of 2006.

Looking forward, the company said it is on track to deliver low single-digit growth in revenue and mid single-digit growth in earnings per share.

Analysts polled by Thomson expect the company to earn 51 cents per share on $3.75 billion in revenue during the second quarter.

Shares were set to open at $25.37 on Wednesday.