Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

New York/Bengaluru — Comcast beat Wall Street profit and revenue estimates on Thursday, as the company added high-speed internet customers and lost more video subscribers than expected.

Comcast’s third quarter showed that its focus on the higher-margin broadband business — necessary to stream content — is helping offset a decline in cable subscribers.

“Four things stood out as wrapped up the quarter: our incredible strength in broadband; the enduring popularity of our premium content; our strong global footing just one year after the Sky acquisition; and how the combination of these things puts us in a unique position to compete, including in the streaming market,” said CEO Brian Roberts.

Comcast shares were up 2.32% at $46.78 in pre-market trading.

Revenue from the company’s high-speed internet business grew 9.3% to $4.72bn with the gain of 379,000 subscribers in the quarter, beating analysts’ average estimate of 344,000 net additions, according to research firm FactSet.

Comcast’s results also reflected the widespread “cord-cutting” across the cable business. The company lost 238,000 video customers in the three months ended September 30, higher than the 224,000 it lost in the previous quarter, and higher than the 203,000 loss estimated by research firm FactSet.

In September, Comcast announced it will offer Xfinity Flex, its streaming media set-top box, and a voice remote for free to its US internet-only customers. It had previously charged those customers $5 a month for the service and remote. The product is meant to make it easier for subscribers of multiple streaming services to find shows.

The company’s NBCUniversal business, which includes NBC Entertainment and Universal Pictures, reported revenue of $8.30bn, down 3.5% from a year earlier. In April, NBCUniversal is launching a streaming service called “Peacock,” which will be available as a subscription or with ads, stocked with 15,000 hours of content from the company’s library.

British pay-TV group Sky, which Comcast acquired after outbidding Twenty-First Century Fox in 2018, generated revenue of $4.55bn, missing estimates of $4.75bn. Comcast attributed that miss to tough macro-economic conditions in the UK, Germany and Italy.

The Philadelphia company said revenue rose 21.2% to $26.83bn, beating analysts’ average estimate of $26.77bn, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net income attributable to Comcast rose to $3.22bn, or 70c per share, from $2.89bn, or 62c per share, a year earlier. Excluding items, the company earned 79c per share, ahead of estimates of 75c.


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