The quarter going into the summer has traditionally been a tough one for telecom companies, as college students go home en masse, turning off their cable and phone service. But despite this historically lean time for cable companies, Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) announced impressive earnings July 30 in their second quarter 2013 earnings report. The Philadelphia, Pa.-based company beat analyst expectations and posted their healthiest profits since the Great Recession of 2008, thanks to increased broadband subscriptions and greater revenues from Comcast subsidiary NBCUniversal.
While Comcast did lose 159,000 TV subscribers the telecom company added 187,000 broadband subscribers and further increased their foothold in the entertainment industry. Comcast acquired a majority of NBCUniversal from General Electric Company (GE) in December 2009, and completed the takeover of NBC in March 2013 at a price of $16.7 billion.
The move brought the attention of government officials, who feared that Comcast, as both a cable provider and network owner, would violate monopolization laws. Despite those fears, the merger – which added several prominent cable channels and a large stake in internet streaming company Hulu to Comcast’s roster – has so far avoided antitrust challenges, and has provided a robust injection of advertising revenue into the company.
NBCUniversal revenue rose 8.9 percent to $6 billion. The division’s operating cash flow skyrocketed 21 percent to $1.19 billion. Comcast was buoyed by improved ratings from NBC, which had gone from being the undisputed king of network in the 90s to being dead last, lagging behind the three other majors (ABC, CBS and Fox), the CW, and even Spanish language channel Univision. While the network still has ground to cover, it has seen improving numbers recently, jumping to fourth in "the demo" (the adults aged 18-49 demographic coveted by advertisers) and second in total viewers overall, largely thanks to the success of popular singing competition The Voice and the top rated television show in the country, America's Got Talent.
The giant cable provider also saw increased profits from their filmmaking subsidiary Universal Pictures. The latest installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise, Fast & Furious 6, was a major smash, ringing in $741.16 million in worldwide box office revenues during the quarter.
Comcast reported net income of $1.73 billion, or $0.65 per share, versus the $1.35 billion, or $0.50 per share from the same period a year ago. Revenue for the quarter was $16.3 billion, as compared to $15.2 billion from the previous year. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.63 per share on revenues of $16 billion.
Comcast is up 5.44 percent to $45.04 a share. The stock is up 10.88 percent on the year.