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CBS CEO Les Moonves does not address misconduct allegations on earnings call

Investigation into Moonves claims
Investigation into Moonves claims 02:16

CBS CEO Les Moonves did not address allegations of sexual misconduct on a highly anticipated conference call to discuss the company's quarterly results. 

At the beginning of the Thursday afternoon call, a CBS executive said they would only take questions related to the company's most recent results, citing legal advice and pending litigation.

The call was expected to be the first time Moonves spoke publicly since a story last week in The New Yorker cited six women with claims of sexual misconduct or assault against the executive. Moonves denied the allegations in a statement to The New Yorker.

CBS' stock has fallen more than 8 percent, to $52.70, since the story broke on July 27. 

CBS released results for its second quarter at 4 p.m. Eastern time, announcing revenue of $3.47 billion for the period, and profit of $659 million. "During the quarter, each of our three revenue types enjoyed solid growth ... where we continue to see healthy gains in both traditional distribution and new digital platforms," Moonves said in a prepared release

The release did not address the allegations.

On the call, executives spoke broadly about content and the new efforts to deliver that content - specifically through new streaming services. The network is acquiring subscribers for Showtime and All Access faster than projected, and expects to hit 8 million by 2019, a year early. Moonves also touted the strength of sports and late night programming and predicted a positive effect from the Supreme Court's recent legalization of sports betting. 

About 10 analysts asked questions focused on the streaming offerings and content plans. Respecting the ground rules set out at the top of the call, no analysts asked about the allegations facing Moonves, the CEO's succession plan or the company's legal fight with its majority shareholder, Shari Redstone. 

Some on social media expressed surprise that the company did not take the opportunity to address the "elephant in the room.

The CBS board on Wednesday night announced that it would retain two law firms to investigate the allegations against Moonves, in addition to the culture at CBS and CBS News.

CBS had previously retained attorney Betsy Plevan of Proskauer Rose to conduct an independent investigation of alleged misconduct at CBS News in the wake of a report by the Washington Post that led to the firing of Charlie Rose, co-host of "CBS This Morning." That investigation is ongoing and is expected to conclude this month, according to CBS News.  

Since the start of 2006, when Moonves became chief executive, CBS stock has delivered a total return of 589 percent, including dividends. That compares to total returns with dividends of 194 percent for the S&P 500 and 314 percent for CBS' market segment in the S&P 500 (consumer discretionary goods) during the same period. 

--CBS News' Jillian Harding, Lex Haris and Irina Ivanova contributed reporting.

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