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Why Comcast Stock Is Soaring Today

By Anders Bylund - Updated Jan 28, 2021 at 4:01PM

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The gigantic cable TV broadcaster and content studio surprised the Street across the board in this morning's fourth-quarter report.

What happened

Shares of media giant Comcast (CMCSA 0.94%) were 8% higher at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, following the release of a solid fourth-quarter earnings report in the early morning.

So what

Total revenue fell 2.4% year over year to $27.7 billion. Rising high-speed internet sales fell short of balancing out cord-cutting trends in the voice and video segments. The NBCUniversal content studio also saw sales fall 18% due to weak interest in every content category and a 63% drop in theme park revenue. Adjusted earnings fell 29% to $0.56 per share.

The analyst consensus had called for earnings near $0.48 per share on sales in the neighborhood of $26.8 billion.

A white charting arrow trends upward.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

The Peacock video-streaming channel reported 33 million total sign-ups, though Comcast left unsaid how many of these are paying for the service. Peacock offers a 7-day free trial period, and an ad-supported service with limited content at no cost to the viewer.

Management expects better financial results in 2021 as vaccines start to roll back the business restrictions on movie theaters and theme parks, among other suffering segments. To underscore its optimism, Comcast's board of directors boosted the dividend by 9%. The annual payout now stands at an even $1 per share, which works out to a yield of 1.9%.

Comcast's stock is trading near its all-time highs today, rivaled only by an all-time high at the very end of 2020. I hear some of my fellow Fools whispering about the upcoming rebound in Comcast's actual business. At the same time, I'm worried that the financial damage of the pandemic hasn't been fully incorporated in these surging share prices, and I would love to know more about Peacock's paid versus free sign-ups.

I'm more than happy to watch Comcast from the sidelines until further notice.

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