Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is saving its pennies for a rainy day, but some see a torrential downpour coming.

Reuters put out an interesting piece of analysis over the weekend, when it speculated that the country's leading cable provider is about to go on a shopping spree.

Poor Comcast. It will never be able to live down its failed bid to buy Disney (NYSE:DIS) five years ago. Now that Comcast is focused and generating billions in annual free cash flow, some are assuming that it's building up a war chest.

Since when has passively padding a balance sheet been a vile thing to do? Just because Comcast can jack up its dividend or aggressively ramp up its share repurchases, that doesn't mean that it has to, just to please the bloodlust of its "buy, buy, buy" cheerleaders.

In short, I don't think Comcast has to do a single thing with its healthy coffers. This is a perk, not an ailment.

I'm also surprised at some of the buyout candidates that the Reuters article is throwing out. Viacom (NYSE:VIA)? Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)?

I get the logic behind the cable-channel purchases. If Comcast owns Viacom's MTV and Nickelodeon -- or Time Warner's HBO and CNN -- it wouldn't have to worry about contractual wrangling whenever subscription rates are being hammered out.

Unfortunately, Comcast doesn't operate in a vacuum.

  • Do you think regulators would let Comcast get away with owning many of its channels?
  • Wouldn't rival cable and satellite television companies be less likely to offer these channels, since the move would fatten a competitor?
  • Isn't this one of the many reasons Time Warner spun out its Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) arm?

There are more logical buyout possibilities, beyond simply buying its original TV Everywhere partner in Time Warner.

Why not TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO)? The DVR pioneer also has licensing deals and legal tussles with Comcast rivals, but it's a patent-rich company that competitors can't necessarily work their way around.

Why not Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX)? The model may seem counterproductive to Comcast's pay-per-view emphasis, but it's a growing service and a smart bet on a different platform for video distribution.

In the end, Comcast doesn't have to buy a single thing. It made one glorious splash with 2004's hostile bid for Disney. There's nothing wrong with keeping its balance sheet strong and making sure that it will be the last company standing if cable empires begin to crumble, as viewer trends change.

What would you do if you were Comcast? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz believes that TV Everywhere is superior to TV Somewhere. He owns shares in TiVo, Disney, and Netflix and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.