NEW YORK (AP) – Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable TV provider, said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter earnings fell 32 percent, hampered by a $600 million write-down of its investment in wireless technology provider Clearwire Corp.
Comcast's revenue and adjusted earnings beat Wall Street estimates, however, helped by growth in Comcast's video segment.
Comcast also raised its annual dividend by 2 cents per share, to 27 cents.
In the fourth quarter, Philadelphia-based Comcast earned $412 million, or 14 cents per share, compared with $602 million, or 20 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.
The Clearwire write-down was expected; other Clearwire investors such as Google Inc., Intel Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc. have recently taken similar charges against their earnings.
Excluding items such as the Clearwire charge, Comcast earned 27 cents per share, up 7 cents per share from the same quarter last year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected an adjusted profit of 22 cents per share.
Comcast's revenue rose 9 percent to $8.77 billion, ahead of analyst forecasts for $8.64 billion in revenue.
Comcast's video revenue rose 3 percent to $4.74 billion. The company lost 233,000 basic subscribers during the quarter but gained 247,000 digital customers, who pay more for service. Its average revenue per video customer rose 9 percent to $113.80 per month, helped by customers adding to their cable channel lineup, even in the recession.
Revenue from broadband Internet services rose 9 percent to $1.86 billion. Comcast added 184,000 Internet subscribers during the quarter, down 46 percent from the 341,000 it added in the year-ago quarter. The company ended the period with 14.9 million broadband customers.
Revenue from Comcast's digital phone segment rose 45 percent to $731 million. However, the company's addition of 344,000 digital phone customers was down 44 percent from the amount added in the fourth quarter of 2007.
For the full year, Comcast earned $2.55 billion, or 86 cents per share. Comcast earned $2.59 billion, or 83 cents per share, in 2007. The company's revenue rose 11 percent to $34.3 billion in 2008.