Comcast profit beats estimates but losses of video and phone customers increase
Comcast is adapting to changes in behaviour as more people drop their cable TV subscriptions in favour of streaming services such as Netflix
New York/Bengaluru — Comcast's second-quarter profit on Thursday beat Wall Street estimates as it added more high-speed internet customers, but it lost more video and phone customers than expected.
Overall revenue missed analyst estimates. Revenue from NBCUniversal's cable networks, filmed entertainment and theme parks also fell short of expectations in the seasonally weaker quarter.
The company's shares were down 0.7% in early trading. It beat profit estimates for at least the ninth consecutive quarter.
Comcast is adapting to changes in consumer behaviour as more people drop their cable television subscriptions in favour of streaming services such as Netflix. It is pursuing higher-margin internet customers rather than unprofitable video subscribers.
"For years, we've felt that video over the internet is more friend than foe," said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. "We believe it plays to our strengths."
Comcast said it lost 224,000 video customers in the quarter, more than the 121,000 it lost in the preceding quarter and topping the loss of 178,000 estimated by analysts, according to research firm FactSet.
"There is a growing tension between the fortunes of the cable business and NBCU," said Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson. "The cable segment is now benefiting from faster video subscriber losses; remarkably, faster video subscriber losses are now a foundation of the bull case. But there is no way to spin faster video subscriber losses at cable as anything other than bad news for NBCU."
Revenue from Comcast's high-speed internet business grew 9.4% to $4.66bn in the second quarter as the company gained 209,000 subscribers. The net subscriber additions were slightly ahead of the average analyst estimate of 208,000, according to FactSet, but were down from 260,000 in the same period a year earlier.
Revenue at the NBCUniversal business, which includes NBC Entertainment and Universal Pictures, fell 0.8% to $8.21bn.
The company is planning to launch an advertising-supported TV streaming service in April 2020, which will be free for NBCUniversal's pay-TV customers as well as Sky customers internationally.
Revenue in Comcast's filmed entertainment unit fell nearly 15% to $1.46bn, reflecting a slate of films that underperformed compared to 2018's blockbuster "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom".
Theme park revenue grew 7.5% to $1.46bn, while revenue from broadcast television rose 0.5% to $2.4bn.
The British pay-TV group Sky, which Comcast bought in 2018, generated revenue of $4.83bn.
Net income attributable to Comcast fell to $3.13bn, or 68 US cents per share, from $3.22bn, or 69c per share, a year earlier. Excluding items, the company earned 78c per share, beating estimates of 75c per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Comcast reported revenue of $26.86bn on a pro-forma basis, which fell short of Wall Street expectations of $27.06bn.