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After having listened to several of these so far this quarter, conference call intros are getting pretty predictable: The economy is weak, but business is holding up, and don’t forget to look at all that cash we’re throwing off. CBS (NYSE: CBS) CEO Les Moonves explained that the company is taking key steps to move from slow growth to high-growth areas: Selling radio stations, buying CNET: “CNET (NSDQ: CNET) networks was forecast to make about $450 million in revenue and $100 million in profit, and they are on track.” He added that the acquisition would be immediately accretive to cash flow and earnings, adding 2 percent to revenue and growth estimates.
— CBS Interactive: Moonves: “Acquiring CNET immediately catapults CBS into the top 10 among global unique visitors… we like the upside of the new CBS interactive going forward.” “Right now, online revenue is primarily generated in search, but in engagement leads to significant revenue opportunities.” When iPhone launched, company used CBS properties to drive traffic to CNET’s launch coverage. Video streams and organic traffic tripled. (Ed note: it’s safe to assume iPhone launch day would’ve been a huge day for CNET with or without CBS promotion). “In July alone, CNET sites have delivered more than 200 million impressions promoting CBS brands.” The stated goal is to reach $1 billion in revenue in the next three years, from the mid-$600 million this year. Also on the call is a fair amount of retreading of the original CNET justification: complementary audiences, but little overlap between CNET and CBS advertisers.
— Advertising: No surprises. Local is very weak. Scatter stronger than upfront, as others have said.
— Radio: There’s a series of strategic buyers that have shown interest in buying the 50 radio stations. Not worried about being unable to sell them in this market. Deal with AOL (NYSE: TWX) has helped double online streams.