Cable giant and content studio operator Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) reported second-quarter results early Thursday morning. The company posted solid revenue gains in nearly all of its core operations, save for a tough year-over-year comparison against the previous year's monster hits on the silver screen. A modest total sales boost triggered a much larger increase in bottom-line profits.

Comcast second-quarter results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q2 2018

Q2 2017

Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

$21.7 billion

$21.3 billion

1.9%

Net income attributable to Comcast

$3.22 billion

$2.52 billion

28%

GAAP earnings per share (diluted)

$0.69

$0.52

33%

Data source: Comcast. GAAP = generally accepted accounting principles.

What happened with Comcast this quarter?

  • A small revenue increase led to larger bottom-line gains thanks to Comcast's fiscal discipline. The company held content and production costs stable compared to the year-ago period, lowered its marketing and advertising budgets by 4%, and limited other operating costs to a 3% increase. Further down the income statement, last December's tax overhaul led to a 28% lower provision for income taxes. Against that backdrop, even a small revenue boost produced substantial earnings growth.
  • Comcast added 182,000 net new cable subscribers during the quarter, losing 136,000 cable TV subscriptions but adding 260,000 new high-speed internet customers. The company has now lost 1.7% of the video customers it had a year ago, landing at 22.1 million accounts. At the same time, the broadband Rolodex expanded by 4.8% to stop at 26.5 million names.
  • In the NBCUniversal division, Comcast saw 8.2% year-over-year gains in cable network revenue and 6.7% growth in broadcast TV sales. Theme parks trucked along with a 3.6% revenue boost but filmed entertainment posted 20% lower sales and a 52% reduction in sub-segment profits.
  • Cable networks saw 22% higher content licensing sales, driven by the timing of deliveries and renewals under NBCUniversal's content production contracts. Advertising revenue growth of 3.6% stemmed from rising ad rates, softened by shrinking subscriber counts.
  • The broadcast TV gains largely rested on the Telemundo subsidiary's coverage of the soccer world cup.
  • This quarter's filmed entertainment slate compared poorly to the year-ago period's portfolio, which was led by Fate of the Furious and several successful home video releases.
  • Theme park revenue rose due to increased spending per capita and a successful opening of the new Fast & Furious -- Supercharged ride at Universal Studios Orlando. These gains were counterchecked by this year's spring break week falling in the first quarter rather than the second.
Comcast logo, featuring the NBC peacock tail, on a plain white background.

Image source: Comcast.

What management had to say

"We delivered fantastic results in the second quarter, including robust free cash flow of $4.3 billion," said CEO Brian Roberts in a prepared statement. "We are excited about the new attractions that we opened at each of our theme parks during the quarter, and pleased with the theatrical performance of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom."

Looking ahead

The cable giant is not in the habit of handing out financial guidance targets, and none were found in this report. That being said, Comcast has several firm goals on the table right now.

The company is engaged in a bidding war with Walt Disney and Twenty-First Century Fox concerning ownership of pan-European broadcaster Sky. After ceding a larger battle over Fox and Sky as a complete package to Disney, Comcast is now focusing on an instant foothold in the Western European theater of operations through Sky alone.

Right here at home, Comcast recently launched its Xfinity Mobile network service just before the onset of the coming 5G wireless onslaught. The new service posted an operating loss of $185 million in the second quarter while adding 204,000 net new subscribers to land at a total of 781,000 active customers. Expect the capital costs to ramp up over time as Comcast throws its financial weight behind a potential high-growth project.

Anders Bylund owns shares of DIS. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends DIS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.