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Instant Analysis: Comcast Hikes Dividend by 10%, Expands Buybacks

By Eric Volkman - Feb 5, 2016 at 5:52PM

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The company will shell out just under $0.28 per share, and buy up to $10 billion of its stock.

What happened?
Comcast (CMCSA 2.68%) is about to spend more on its stock and its stockholders. The company declared a fresh quarterly dividend of nearly $0.28 per share, exactly 10% higher than its previous dividend. That's par for the course for the media giant, which has raised its payout annually since relaunching it -- following a nearly decade-long hiatus -- in 2008. During that time span, it has risen from just more than $0.06 per share to the present level.

Comcast's new dividend will be handed out on April 27 to shareholders of record as of April 6. At the current stock price, it yields 1.9%. That's lower than the average of stocks on the S&P 500 index, which stands at 2.3%.

The company also announced that its board of directors has increased its share buyback program authorization to $10 billion. Five billion dollars of that amount is planned to be spent during the course of this year, "subject to market conditions," Comcast said.

Does it matter?
Comcast's dividend raise not only fits its usual, once-per-year pattern, it comes on the back of encouraging Q4 and full-year results.

The company managed to keep the cord-cutting bogeyman at bay, recording net additions of around 53,000 video customers. Out of that number, its customer loss figure (36,000) was its lowest in nearly a decade. Meanwhile, the number of broadband customer additions grew by 23% on a year-over-year basis, to around 460,000. And the quarterly and annual revenue and net profit figures rose, with both line items beating the average analyst estimates.

Comcast is doing a fine job retaining and attracting customers, in contrast to satellite TV purveyors AT&T (T 1.67%) and Verizon (VZ 1.75%). AT&T's U-Verse saw a net outflow of around 26,000 customers, while Verizon drew 20,000 new sets of eyeballs to its FiOS TV -- a far cry from the 116,000 the company brought in for Q4 2014.

It says something that Comcast is holding its own, not only against the dreaded cord-cutting monster, but also versus well-capitalized phone/satellite behemoths AT&T and Verizon. The dividend raise and new buyback authorization won't move the needle on the stock alone -- those encouraging financials should take care of that -- rather, they should be taken as a clear vote of confidence in the company's business and financial situation.

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Stocks Mentioned

Comcast Corporation Stock Quote
Comcast Corporation
$40.29 (2.68%) $1.05
Verizon Communications Inc. Stock Quote
Verizon Communications Inc.
$51.64 (1.75%) $0.89
AT&T Inc. Stock Quote
AT&T Inc.
$21.31 (1.67%) $0.35

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