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CBS Takes $9.5 Billion Writedown

Its goodwill balance is now $29 billion.
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CBS

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halved its fourth-quarter loss in spite of another giant asset writedown.

The New York-based media outfit lost $9.14 billion, or $6 a share, compared with the year-ago $18.44 billion, or $10.99 a share. The latest quarter included an asset-impairment charge of $9.5 billion, or $5.99 a share, compared with the year-ago impairment charge of $18 billion, or $10.43 a share. The charge allowed CBS to reduce the carrying amount of television and radio goodwill to their respective estimated fair values. Goodwill is the difference between the value of an asset and its purchase price in an acquisition, in this case the 2000 buy of CBS by

Viacom

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. CBS said its goodwill balance is now $29 billion.

Fourth quarter of 2005 pro forma net earnings from continuing operations, assuming the separation from Viacom occurred on Jan. 1, 2005, and excluding impairment charges, was $311 million, or 41 cents a diluted share. Revenue inched up to $3.83 billion from $3.75 billion a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a 39-cent pro forma profit on sales of $3.85 billion.

Excluding noncash impairment charges, operating income increased 3% to $647 million, reflecting a 9% increase at television, 18% growth at outdoor and an increase in parks/publishing to $23 million from $9 million in the fourth quarter of 2004, partially offset by an 11% decrease at radio from the same prior-year period.

"I couldn't be more pleased with the smooth execution of Viacom's split and the rapid progress we have made at CBS Corporation right out of the gate in 2006," said Chairman Sumner Redstone. "Leslie Moonves, our president and CEO, and his team are running an enterprise that is completely focused on generating solid performance and stable returns year in and year out. Adding to all that is a constantly growing mountain of content that generates revenue through established and emerging platforms."

The company said it expects to post low single-digit growth in revenues and mid single-digit growth in operating income and earnings per share for 2006, off 2005's $1.59 a share on revenue of $14.5 billion. Analysts are looking for $1.75 a share on $15.1 billion.