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Spectrum sale, increase in data subs drive Comcast’s Q3 results

Fri, 10/26/2012 - 3:50pm
Mike Robuck

The sale of spectrum to Verizon Wireless and a 10 percent gain in data subscribers contributed to Comcast more than doubling its third-quarter profit.

In its third-quarter earnings report that was released this morning, Comcast’s net income was $2.11 billion, or 78 cents per share, from $908 million, or 33 cents per share, a year ago. Comcast’s revenue grew 15 percent to $16.54 billion, which trumped analysts’ average estimate of $16.07 billion.

The sale of wireless spectrum to Verizon Wireless, which won regulatory approval in August, kicked in $2.3 billion in one-time gains for the nation’s largest ISP and cable operator. Comcast also added $319 million to the bottom line of the third quarter with the sale of its stake in A&E Networks.

Comcast did lose 117,000 video subscribers in the quarter, but that was a 29 percent improvement over the 165,000 that left the same quarter a year ago. Overall, it was the eighth-straight quarter of reduced video subscriber losses for Comcast.

Comcast added 287,000 broadband customers in the quarter, which was a 10 percent improvement over the 261,000 from a year ago. Comcast gained 123,000 voice customers in the third quarter, but that was off from the 133,000 that came onboard in the third quarter of last year.

Revenue for Comcast’s cable operations increased 7 percent to $10 billion in the third quarter of 2012, compared with $9.3 billion in the third quarter of 2011, reflecting increases of 9 percent in data, 34 percent in business services, 3 percent in video and 23 percent in advertising.

Despite the loss of video subscribers in the quarter, monthly average total revenue per video customer increased 9 percent to $150, reflecting a growing number of residential customers taking multiple products, rate adjustments and a higher contribution from business services.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal brought in $1.19 billion in revenue from the 2012 London Olympics, which helped Comcast break even on its Olympic telecasts across multiple platforms.

"The third quarter continues our momentum,” said Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts. “Cable's results show real strength in every part of the business, producing sustainable and profitable growth while we expand our product offerings, deliver more innovation and continue to transform the customer experience.

“NBCUniversal's results highlight the strong performance of the Olympics and steady progress in its businesses as we invest to build value. The London Olympics exceeded all our expectations, and our entire company contributed to their success, proving how effective we can be when we bring together our unique assets and capabilities."

On the conference call this morning, Comcast Cable President and CEO Neil Smit said Comcast planned to have its XI platform rolled out in two more major markets over the coming weeks, for a total of six markets for the next-generation guide and IP-based service.

“We’ve got very positive feedback so far where we've rolled it out,” Smit said. “I think the important thing to remember with the X1 is it’s more than just a guide; it’s the IP-delivered video platform that enables us to adjust the product and upgrade different services in a very short time frame, and so it takes time to prep the markets and roll them out and train the service technicians, but we are very encouraged by the initial rollout of the product.”

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