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Comcast Corp. Earnings: Blue Skies Ahead

By Anders Bylund – Oct 26, 2018 at 5:33PM

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The American cable giant is about to gain a larger global footprint.

Cable broadcaster and general entertainment-giant Comcast (CMCSA 2.05%) reported third-quarter results early Thursday morning. Broadband customers are signing on faster than TV service subscribers are signing off, and the company showed rising revenues nearly everywhere.

Here's a closer look at Comcast's results.

Comcast's third-quarter results: The raw numbers


Q3 2018

Q3 2017

Year-Over-Year Change


$22.1 billion

$21.1 billion


Net income

$2.89 billion

$2.64 billion


GAAP earnings per share (diluted)




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

The company also considers adjusted EBITDA profits to be a useful metric, giving a more direct view of its operating profits that are not encumbered by capital structure details such as interest payments and depreciation of long-lived assets. That data point stopped at $7.3 billion, 2.5% above the year-ago period.

What happened with Comcast this quarter?

  • Comcast, as a whole, served 30.1 million total customers in the third quarter, up from 29.8 million in the second quarter and 29.1 million in the third quarter of 2017.
  • The number of consumer-level video subscribers fell 1.7% year over year, to 21.0 million. The number of high-speed internet customers rose 5.2% in the consumer segment and 6.3% in terms of business customers, adding up to a grand total of 26.9 million accounts.
  • 8.9 million residential subscribers used only one service from Comcast, a 10.6% increase over the same period in 2017. Customers paying for three or more bundled services dwindled 0.6% lower, to 9.9 million.
  • The NBCUniversal content studio saw sales rising 8.1%, to $8.6 billion. Theme-park traffic was hampered by earthquakes, typhoons, and generally bad weather in Japan. Filmed entertainment delivered 3.8% revenue growth in the face of tough comparisons against blockbusters Boss Baby and Fate of the Furious in 2017. Broadcast and cable TV revenues increased by double-digit percentages, thanks to the Telemundo network's FIFA World Cup coverage and favorable timing of several content-licensing agreements.
A smiling young couple share a bowl of popcorn, TV remote in hand.

Image source: Getty Images.

What management had to say

CEO Brian Roberts spent some time during the earnings call on the pending buyout of European cable and telecommunications giant Sky, which is expected to close in November. "Together, we make each other even better," Roberts said. "Sky triples our footprint of homes we can directly sell our TV products into, now nearly 200 million, and nearly doubles our broadband footprint."

Roberts explained further that the deal gives Comcast a leading market share in several attractive markets, centered around a package of sports, news, and movies that feels familiar to the company behind NBCUniversal. "And all of this is built around subscription-based and recurring revenue businesses, which has allowed us to grow EBITDA for 23 straight years, and Sky adds to this highly desirable formula."

Finally, Roberts waxed poetic about the similarities between Sky and NBC: "I've been struck by the similarity of mission: Connect more people to the moments that matter with products and content that they love."

Looking ahead

Comcast's management is not in the habit of issuing financial guidance, but Roberts provided some general color on his company's near-term prospects. "This is a fantastic time in our company's history. We delivered a strong quarter with some of the best results in years, we've transitioned to more of a global company with our acquisition of Sky, and now we are getting started on the next phase of our strategy," Roberts said.

That strategy is built around the Sky deal, which expands Comcast from a largely American business to a more globe-trotting footprint. Many of Sky's European markets have yet to saturate their broadband and cable TV markets, leaving room for more ambitious long-term growth. And of course, Comcast's total customer count will nearly double on the closing of this deal, since Sky boasts 27 million subscribers of its own.

Anders Bylund has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Comcast. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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