Media Stocks: CBS Beats Profit Forecast on Super Bowl, Music Events

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - CBS Corp. ( CBS) , the highest rated U.S. broadcaster, posted first-quarter profits that beat estimates as the Super Bowl, the Grammys and the NCAA basketball tournament pushed revenue over $4 billion for the first time since the company split from Viacom ( VIAB) in 2006.

CBS, which rose 1.4% on Wednesday to $46.40, has gained 38% over the past 12 months and trades at 18.7 times earnings, its most expensive since June. The New York-based network is aiming to grow advertising sales on its digital platforms as the company adds more content to online channels.

CBS posted first quarter profit from continuing operations of 73 cents per share, beating the average forecast of 68 cents, according to a Bloomberg survey of 27 analysts. Revenue for the quarter totaled $4.04 billion, edging an average estimate of $4.02 billion of 24 analysts.

Elsewhere among media companies, Time Warner Inc. ( TWX), owner of the HBO and TBS networks, fell after reporting first-quarter sales that missed analyst expectations as declines at the New York-based media company's film and TV entertainment units, and its publishing segment, offset growth at its networks.

Sales totaled $6.9 billion, short of a $7.1 billion average forecast of 25 analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Net income on an adjusted basis for the first three months of the year grew to $720 million, or 75 cents a share, from $583 million, or 59 cents, for the same period a year ago, the company said. Analysts had expected earnings of 74 cents a share.

Time Warner shares dropped 0.5% to $59.48. Viacom ( VIAB), owner of Nickelodeon, MTV and Paramount Pictures jumped 3% to close at $65.90 as advertising at its cable-TV unit rose 2%. Viacom eased investor concern about ad revenue at its networks, particularly Nickelodeon, after ad revenue fell 6% in the previous quarter.

Written by Leon Lazaroff in New York