Stock Market Today: Comcast’s Cable Wins and Harley-Davidson’s Profit Spike

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has gained eight points in pre-market trading, suggesting a flat start to the stock market today. As we barrel into the thick of earnings season, corporate profit results should drive the market for the rest of the week. And this morning's big movers are no exception: Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA  ) and Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG  ) both announced quarterly results before the opening bell.

Comcast today booked a massive 33% spike in quarterly profit on a 14% boost in sales. Earnings for the nation's biggest cable operator were $0.68 a share and revenue clocked in at $17.4 billion. Those top and bottom-line figures both beat analysts' expectations. Comcast saw its strongest growth in high-speed Internet sales in two years as the division added 383,000 customers and improved sales by 9%. Despite all the talk about cord-cutting, the company even managed to grow cable subscribers: its video customer base expanded for the second quarter in a row, rising 24,000 as compared to a 25,000-member loss over the same period last year. CEO Brian Roberts said in a press release accompanying the earnings announcement that the company "has tremendous momentum right now," which sounds about right given Comcast's surging results across its business lines. The stock was up 0.7% in pre-market trading.  

Harley-Davidson this morning announced a big gain in profitability as earnings jumped 22% higher in its first quarter. A solid boost in motorcycle shipments powered a 10% revenue improvement, and that helped gross profit margin rise by a full percentage point to 37.7% of sales. The United States was one of Harley's slowest-growing regions in the quarter, logging a 3% gain versus an 11% boost from international markets. Still, CEO Keith Wandell noted in the earnings press release that the small domestic gain came "in the midst of a long, cold winter," and the company's prospects look good as it enters the heart of motorcycle shopping season in the U.S. Harley's outlook for 2014 calls for total shipments to rise by a strong 8% over last year's figures. The stock was up 7% in pre-market trading.

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