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Cable TV provider Comcast surpasses Street's 2Q profit view, but misses on revenue as battle for viewers rages

The company reported that it lost 140,000 cable TV subscribers in the quarter
Comcast building
The media company recently abandoned a bid for the bulk of 21st Century Fox’s content

Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) posted better-than-expected second-quarter profit Thursday, but fell short of Wall Street’s revenue estimate as it dealt with falling demand for cable television subscriptions.

The results comes as the media company is entangled in the pursuit of mergers and acquisitions. Just this month, Comcast abandoned its bid for the bulk of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, which ended up being won by its rival Walt Disney for US$71bn. But it is still battling against Fox in a bid to acquire the European Pay-TV group Sky.

Read: Comcast drops 21st Century Fox bid to refocus on the pursuit of UK pay-TV firm Sky

The company, which is based in Philadelphia, reported that it lost 140,000 cable TV subscribers in the quarter. But on a more optimistic note, the fall-out on the cable TV front was offset by the addition of 260,000 high-speed internet customers.

“At Cable Communications, we added 182,000 customer relationships, largely driven by our addition of 260,000 broadband customers, which was the highest second quarter result in 10 years," said CEO Brian Roberts in a statement.

Cable TV providers like Comcast are locked in a battle for viewers with wildly popular streaming services like Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube and Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Prime.

Read: Clash of the (media) titans: What is driving the Fox, Comcast, Disney bidding war over Sky?

Just this week, eMarketer, a research group, forecast that the number of Americans who will “cut the cord” on their television service will reach 33 million this year, up from 27 million last year, according to published news reports.

Comcast’s earnings in the quarter jumped to US$3.22bn, or US$0.69 per share, up from US$2.52bn, or US$0.52 per share in the year-ago quarter. On an adjusted basis, Comcast reported per-share earnings of US$0.65, which zipped past street forecasts for US$0.60.

Its revenue, meanwhile, fell short of street predictions, coming in at US$21.74bn against a forecast of US$21.86bn.

Revenue at its television and film subsidiary NBCUniversal stayed flat at $8.3 billion, due in part to a decline in profits from its filmed entertainment division, which lacked box-office winners in the quarter. 

Investors remained relatively upbeat in the wake of the mixed results, pushing up shares by 3% to US$34.46.

Contact Ellen Kelleher at [email protected]

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