NEW YORK (CNNfn) - With a report it may sell its Internet holdings in the background, CBS Corp. says its continuing operations broke even on a per share basis in the fourth quarter, little changed from a year earlier.
The media company says its income from continuing operations in the three months ended Dec. 31 was $3 million, compared with a loss of $10 million, or 1 cent a diluted share, a year earlier. The results were in line with the consensus forecast of analysts surveyed by First Call.
Including extraordinary items in 1998 and discontinued operations in 1997, CBS posted a net loss of $1 million, or breakeven, compared with net income of $861 million, or $1.24 a diluted share.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, rose 14.2 percent to $282 million. Revenue climbed 21.6 percent to $1.79 billion.
The company says the latest quarter results were bolstered by record revenue and EBITDA at its owned television stations, and by the stronger ratings shown by the network's prime-time lineup. It was countered by lower syndication revenue from the sale of CBS off-network programming compared with 1997 as well as lower profits for sports programming other than the National Football League.
For all of 1998, CBS lost $21 million, or 3 cents a diluted share, after earning $526 million, or 84 cents, in 1997. EBITDA rose 42 percent to $1.10 billion, and revenue climbed 26.8 percent to $6.81 billion.
The earnings announcement comes after a published report indicated that CBS may be about to create a separate company for the Internet properties in which it holds a stake.
CEO Mel Karmazin is quoted in the Wall Street Journal as considering whether to offer shares of the unit to the public. "It's maybe the top of the first inning as to where this business model is going," he tells the Journal in an interview.
The funds from CBS.com would be used to invest in other Internet properties, the Journal says. The new unit would be owned jointly by CBS and Infinity Broadcasting, its separately traded radio unit.
CBS holds a 38 percent stake in Marketwatch.com, an online financial services news site, and a 12.5 percent stake in SportsLine USA, a sports news service.
CBS stock closed Thursday at 35-13/16, down 13/16.