Despite the failure of its attempted $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, Comcast(NASDAQ:CMCSA) enjoyed a strong first quarter and looks to have positive momentum though the company is operating in some rapidly changing industries.
The cable and Internet giant saw its revenue grow 2.6% year-over-year to $17.85 billion. Those numbers were adjusted to factor out the Olympics and Super Bowl -- when included, the first quarter was even more impressive.
"We are off to a great start in 2015, with 7.6% operating cash flow growth and record quarterly free cash flow," CEO Brian Roberts said in a press release. "Cable had a terrific quarter, once again reflecting strong results in high-speed Internet and business services. We have made progress in transforming the customer experience while delivering improved products and innovations faster than ever before."
Roberts also touted the success of Super Bowl XLIX, "which was the most watched television program of all time," the results of Fifty Shades of Grey, and the performance of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- Diagon Alley attraction at its Orlando theme park.
Comcast may not be moving forward with the Time Warner deal, but the company seems ready to move forward with new goals and initiatives. During the conference call with investors, the management team shared their vision for the future and noted some recent milestones.
The failed merger is not the end of the world
At the top of call, before getting into any of the financial results, Roberts addressed the elephant in the room: the Time Warner deal.
"At Comcast, we have great products and technologies, and we were excited about bringing these capabilities to additional cities," he said. "The government ultimately didn't see it the same way."
Roberts explained that the deal had been structured to prevent "unnecessary risk for shareholders" in the event regulators denied the deal.
The company listed $99 million in "transaction-related costs" from the Time Warner merger and a related transaction with Charter Communications. It had previously reported "another $99 million in Q4 2014, $77 million in Q3 2014, $44 million in Q2 2014, and $17 million in Q1 2014," according to ARS Technica.
Those are not trivial numbers, but there was no breakup fee included in the deal.
Share buyback is growing
Roberts said that the company is so confident in its success moving forward that it plans to add another $2.5 billion to its planned share buyback program.
"In total, this now represents a plan to buy back $6.75 billion in our own stock in 2015," he said during the call.
Cable is not dead
Despite all the talk about cord cutting, cable continues to be a major source of revenue for the company. Though the company has lost subscribers for its pay-TV service over the past year, that loss amounted to just 8,000 subscribers. Overall, when you factor in broadband and telephone services, Comcast added 199,000 "customer relationships" in the quarter, a 61% year-over-year improvement. The company has also managed to grow its revenue per customer by 4.7% to $140 per month with 69% of customers taking at least two products and 37% taking three.
"We were responding to a tough competitive environment with real product leadership," Roberts said. "Our strategy is clearly resonating."
The CEO cited investments in the company's network, its content, and its efforts to improve customer service as growth drivers for the division.
Internet is the new king
Comcast has always been known as a cable company, but its Internet business is about to take the crown. The company closed the first quarter with 22.375 million video customers and 22.369 million high-speed Internet customers. As the company continues to add Internet customers while shedding subsribers on the cable side, its broadband business should surpass pay-TV at some point in the current quarter.
Neil Smit, CEO of the cable business, said he saw more room for growth in broadband, which he confirmed had "in fact surpassed video" in number of subscribers.
"It's a less mature market, so we believe there is room for growth. We believe we're increasing share, and the market is growing," he said, explaining that Comcast uses broadband as a way to reach new customers and market other services.