Why is CBS on the Move?

Shares of CBS Corp. (NYSE:CBS) climbed as much as 3.5 percent on Friday after the mass media company hit shareholders with some good news. Not only did it post record results in several fourth-quarter and full-year metrics, but it also announced plans for $1 billion in accelerated share repurchases.

“Our plan to repurchase an additional $1 billion shares of CBS stock this year demonstrates both the confidence we have in our future and the commitment we have to our shareholders,” said president and CEO Leslie Moonves in a statement. “Our growing sources of high-margin, non-advertising revenue, along with the strategic initiatives we announced for our Outdoor segment last month, are transforming CBS into a Company that is more reliant on steady and recurring revenue streams.”

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In case you missed it, last month’s strategic initiatives were the decisions to sell off European and Asian outdoor advertising operations and make American outdoor operations a separately managed real-estate investment trust. Both initiatives have sat well with investors, who generally agree that the strategy will help “unlock the tremendous value of these unique quality assets,” according to Moonves.

Investors also largely appreciated the company’s earnings report, released on Friday morning…

CBS highlighted some new records in its earnings report. For the quarter, adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization hit a record of $866 million, operating income grew to $726 million, earnings from continuing operations hit $0.64 per share, and total diluted earnings per share came in at $0.62. Revenues grew 2 percent year-over-year to $3.7 billion. Revenue growth was driven by a 3-percent gain in advertising income and 9-percent growth at its Cable Networks segment.

For the year, CBS reported record revenues of $14.09 billion, a 3 percent annual increase. Operating income came in at a record $2.98 billion, and diluted earnings per share from continuing operations grew 21.6 percent to $2.48.

“Advertising revenue is growing, and our revenue from non-advertising sources continues to grow even faster,” executive chairman Sumner Redstone said in the earnings report. Like News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS)(NASDAQ:NWSA) and Disney (NYSE:DIS), CBS is shifting more of its focus onto content, which many see as a much more stable and lucrative business model. All three mass media companies have made tremendous content grabs recently, with News Corp. gobbling up a few regional sports networks, and Disney’s infamous acquisition of Lucas Films.

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