Comcast reports record internet customers, 33 million Peacock sign-ups for NBCUniversal

Comcast reports record internet customers, 33 million Peacock sign-ups for NBCUniversal

Comcast on Thursday reported fiscal fourth-quarter results that beat analyst estimates on the top and bottom lines. 

Comcast also reported record net customer additions for high-speed internet service in Q4, and an additional 11 million subscribers to its new streaming service, Peacock.

The stock closed up more than 6.5%.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Earnings per share: 56 cents adjusted vs. 48 cents expected in a Refinitiv survey of analysts
  • Revenue: $27.71 billion vs. $26.78 billion expected by Refinitiv
  • High-speed internet customers:  538,000 vs. 490,000 net adds expected in a FactSet survey

The company said NBCUniversal’s Peacock now has 33 million sign-ups across the U.S., up from 22 million last quarter. The company said its exclusive agreement to stream wrestling matches from the WWE Network in the U.S., announced earlier this week, should also drive sign-ups and engagement, along with the recent launch of “The Office” on the platform. 

Comcast also raised its quarterly dividend to 25 cents per share from 23 cents. CEO Brian Roberts said in the earnings report that the company also expects to begin repurchasing shares later in 2021. 

The company reported its best fourth-quarter result on record for total customer relationships, adding 455,000 customers to reach 33.1 million. It added 538,000 high-speed internet customers. 

Comcast said its Europe-based Sky division has continued to add customers, up 244,000 to 23.9 million in Q4. That brought its customer relationships and overall Sky revenue in Europe back to pre-Covid 2019 levels, the company said. 

Comcast’s theme park division, which has suffered due to the pandemic, continued to get hit by closures and capacity reductions stemming from the pandemic. Theme park revenue fell nearly 63% to $579 million. The company said adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was a loss of $15 million, which included costs for its not-yet opened Universal Beijing. 

“Without those costs, and better attendance at the Orlando and Osaka parks, even with Hollywood closed, the Theme Parks reached breakeven,” the company said. 

The filmed entertainment division has also been battered by the pandemic, which restricted movie theater operations and shut down some movie production. The segment’s revenue decreased 8.3% to $1.4 billion. The company said that was partly offset by higher content licensing revenue. Its adjusted EBITA increased more than 65% to $151 million, “reflecting lower revenue more than offset by lower operating costs — driven by lower advertising, marketing and promotion expenses due to a reduced number of releases to the prior year.” 

Comcast said its decision to release titles on premium video-on-demand has proven to be profitable.

The company said the rollout of vaccines brings optimism that its impacted business segments will return to growth. It’s also optimistic that the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to open on July 23, will still occur.

“Anything could happen, but we’re pretty confident that the Olympics will happen and the advertisers are hopping in and agreeing,” NBCUniversal chief Jeff Shell said on the company’s earnings call.

Here’s how Comcast’s divisions did for the quarter compared with a year earlier: 

  • Cable communications accounted for $15.7 billion in revenue, up 6.3%.
  • Cable networks brought in $2.7 billion in revenue, down 6.4%.
  • Broadcast television accounted for $2.8 billion in revenue, down 12%.
  • Filmed entertainment brought in $1.4 billion in total revenue, down 8.3%.
  • Theme parks brought in $579 million in revenue, down 63%. 

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

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