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Comcast (CMCSA) Beats on Earnings as Customers Increase

Comcast Corp. CMCSA reported strong financial results in the first quarter of 2016 wherein both the top and the bottom line surpassed the respective Zacks Consensus Estimate. Importantly, the company witnessed impressive subscriber gain for video, high-speed data and voice. Comcast currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).  

GAAP net income in the first quarter of 2016 came in at $2,134 million or 87 cents per share compared with $2,059 million or 81 cents in the prior-year quarter. Notably, quarterly adjusted earnings per share of 84 cents were ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 79 cents.

Quarterly total revenue was $18,790 million, up 5.2% year over year and ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $18,632 million.

Operating costs and expenses totaled $12,423 million, up 4.4% year over year. However, operating income came in at $4,089 million, representing annualized growth of 5.1%. Operating margin was 21.8%, flat year over year. During the first quarter, Comcast repurchased 22 million common shares for $1,200 million and paid dividends of $611 million.

In the first quarter of 2016, Comcast generated $6,367 million of cash from operations compared with $5,956 million in the year-ago quarter. Free cash flow was $2,805 million compared with $3,183 million in the prior-year quarter. Cash and marketable securities, at first-quarter 2016 end, were $5,628 million, up from $2,401 million at the end of 2015. Total debt at first-quarter 2016 end was $55,634 million compared with $52,621 million at the end of 2015. The debt-to-capitalization ratio at first-quarter end was 0.49 compared with 0.48 at 2015 end.

Cable Communications Segment

Quarterly total revenue of $12,204 million reflected a 6.7% year-over-year rise. Operating cash flow was $4,889 million, up 5% year over year. Within this segment, Video revenues were $5,538 million, up 3.9% from the prior-year quarter. High-Speed Internet revenues totaled $3,275 million, up 7.6% year over year. Voice revenues were $896 million, down 1.1% year over year. Advertising revenues totaled $559 million, up 12.1% from the year-ago quarter. Business Services revenues were $1,311 million, up 17.5% year over year. Other revenues were $625 million, up 14.8% from the prior-year quarter.

As of Mar 31, 2016, Comcast had 23.767 million (up 6.2% year over year) high-speed Internet customers; 11.577 million (up 2.7% year over year) voice customers; and 22.400 million (up 0.1% year over year) video customers. The company added a net of 438,000 high-speed Internet customers, 102,000 voice customers and 53,000 video subscribers in the reported quarter. Comcast gained 99,000 triple-play subscribers, 125,000 double-play subscribers and 45,000 single-play subscribers, in the reported quarter.

NBC Universal Segment

Quarterly total revenue of $6,861 million reflected a 3.9% year-over-year increase. Operating cash flow was $1,622 million, indicating a 10% year-over-year rise. Within this segment, Cable Networks revenues were $2,453 million, up 4% year over year. Broadcast TV revenues came in at $2,084 million, down 7.3% year over year. Filmed Entertainment revenues were $1,383 million, down 4.3% from the year-ago quarter. Theme Parks revenues were $1,026 million, up a whopping 57.5% year over year.

Latest Developments

According to a recent report by The Wall Street Journal, Comcast is mulling over acquiring leading animation picture developer DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. DWA. The deal size may well go beyond $3 billion. Just three weeks ago, DreamWorks Animation entered into a definitive agreement with U.S. telecom giant Verizon Communications Inc. VZ to sell a 24.5% stake in AwesomenessTV to the later for approximately $160 million. Comcast is facing intense competitive pressure from The Walt Disney Co. DIS. We believe Comcast’s apparent move to acquire DreamWorks Animation may be a strategic one to stave off competitive threat. However, Comcast is yet to confirm the news.

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