Comcast Meets Analysts’ Profit Estimates on Box Office HitsGerry Smith
Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable provider and owner of the Universal film studio, reported second-quarter earnings in line with analysts’ estimates, helped by box-office hits like “Jurassic World.”
Profit excluding some items was 84 cents a share, Philadelphia-based Comcast said in a statement. That matched the average of predictions compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue rose 11 percent to $18.7 billion, topping projections of $18.1 billion.
Comcast has now more Internet customers than cable ones, after boosting its broadband customer base as more Americans drop their cable subscriptions and opt for online-streaming services such as Netflix Inc. and Hulu.
Sales at the NBCUniversal group, which includes the NBC broadcast network, cable channels such as USA and MSNBC, and the Universal film studio, jumped 20 percent. The studio has taken in more than $1 billion domestically, driven by the blockbusters “Jurassic World” and “Furious 7,” according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
“Hollywood led the way for Comcast,” said Paul Sweeney, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “The 20 percent gain in revenue at NBCU set the pace for the quarter and was led by the film studio and the theme parks.”
Broadband subscribers, at 22.5 million, surpassed video subscribers, at 22.3 million. Comcast signed up 180,000 new Internet customers in the quarter, 12 percent fewer than a year earlier. The number missed the 198,000 average of three analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
The shares fell 2.6 percent to $62.80 at 10:34 a.m. in New York. They had climbed 11 percent this year through Wednesday, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index increased 2.7 percent.
Comcast is seeking a path forward after abandoning its $45.2 billion plan to purchase Time Warner Cable Inc. While the deal would have combined the No. 1 and the No. 2 U.S. cable operators, Comcast dropped its bid in April after concluding that regulators would reject it.
The company lost 69,000 cable-TV subscribers in a seasonally weak period when college students typically disconnect their TV service for summer vacation. That’s fewer than the 116,000 lost subscribers anticipated by analysts. The company lost 144,000 a year earlier.
Comcast said its efforts to improve customer service and introduce its new cloud-based X1 platform helped stem video subscriber losses.
The average monthly customer bill rose 4.5 percent to $143.48.
Revenue at Comcast’s NBCUniversal group increased to $7.23 billion. The film division generated $2.27 billion in sales during the quarter, up 93 percent from a year earlier.
NBCUniversal has increased the fees it charges pay-TV distributors to carry its content in an effort to offset advertising declines caused by lower cable ratings. Ad revenues at the company’s cable networks fell 3 percent to $917 million.
Revenue at NBCUniversal’s theme parks climbed 26 percent to $773 million.
Net income rose 7.3 percent to $2.14 billion, or 84 cents a share, from $1.99 billion, or 76 cents, a year earlier.
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