CBS revenue down as ads decline from 2013 levels

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LOS ANGELES — CBS, owner of the most-watched television network, reported first-quarter revenue that missed analysts’ estimates as advertising slumped amid a tough comparison with last year’s Super Bowl telecast.

Sales fell 4.6 percent to $3.86 billion, New York-based CBS said Thursday in a statement, hurt by a 12 percent drop in ad revenue. Analysts projected $3.92 billion, the average of 23 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Buybacks boosted profit, which rose to 78 cents a share, beating analysts’ estimates of 75 cents, after CBS spent $2 billion repurchasing shares.

The company sold stock in its outdoor unit during the quarter and accelerated its buybacks. That put a positive sheen on a challenging period.

“This quarter’s results represent a very rare revenue miss for CBS,” Paul Sweeney, a Bloomberg Industries analyst, said in an e-mail. “CBS appears to have been caught up in the soft first-quarter advertising trends we have seen from some other large media companies.”

CBS, controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone, fell 2.3 percent to $56.65 in extended trading after the announcement Thursday. The stock advanced 2.4 percent to $58.01 at the close in New York and has retreated 9 percent this year.

The sale of shares in CBS Outdoor Americas Inc. was part of a decision to turn the business into a real estate investment trust and eventually divest the investment. The actions are giving CBS about $5 billion for buybacks and potential acquisitions.

The company will repurchase $6 billion of its stock this year, executives said on a conference call Thursday.