Despite the potential distraction of its proposed 51 percent stake in NBC Universal, Comcast posted a healthy profit in the recently completed fourth quarter.
The nation’s largest cable operator saw its fourth-quarter net profit increase to $955 million, or 33 cents per share, from $412 million, or 14 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding a tax gain, Comcast had a profit of 29 cents per share, compared with 25 cents per share a year ago, after adjusting for one-time charges.
All told, Comcast’s revenue increased 2.9 percent to $9.08 billion, compared with $8.81 billion a year ago. Comcast’s earnings and revenue exceeded Wall Street analysts’ expectations that had forecast an average of 27 cents per share and revenue of $8.96 billion.
Comcast did lose 199,000 basic video subscribers in the fourth quarter, but that was less than last year’s loss of 233,000. The company added 410,000 digital TV customers, which was a 66 percent increase, and 243,000 digital phone subscribes in the quarter.
On the data side, Comcast added 247,000 subscribers.
"I am pleased to report healthy operating and financial results for 2009,” said Comcast CEO and Chairman Brian Roberts. “We are particularly proud of our accomplishments this year in light of a difficult economic environment affecting the consumer and our advertising business, as well as intensified competition. These results highlight the strength and resilience of our businesses, as well as effective execution, with a focus on profitable growth, expense control and prudent capital management.
“In 2009, we continued to invest in our products and services and in growth opportunities like Comcast Business Services. We also made real progress deploying all-digital and wideband and launched innovative products like Comcast High-Speed 2go, our 4G wireless broadband service, and On Demand Online. We believe these initiatives and our focus on delivering the best consumer experience further improves our competitive position now and in the future.”
For the year, Comcast earned $3.64 billion, or $1.26 per share, compared with $2.55 billion, or 86 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose by 3.9 percent to $35.76 billion.