PHILADELPHIA - Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) added 43,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter -- the first quarterly gain in six and a half years -- as the nation's top cable TV company said that uptake of its X1 set-top box helped it retain customers and boost video-on-demand spending.
Net income in the three months through
December rose 26 percent to $1.91 billion, or 72 cents per share, from $1.52
billion, or 56 cents per share a year ago. However, the increase was partly due
to a one-time tax windfall of $158 million.
Excluding the tax gain, earnings per
share came to 66 cents, slightly below the 68 cents per share expected by
analysts polled by FactSet.
Revenue rose 6 percent to $16.93
billion, beating the $16.65 billion expected by analysts.
Philadelphia-based Comcast is rolling
out its X1 platform to new customers who sign up for at least three services -- Internet, video and voice -- and to other top customers where it has supplies.
The set-top box allows users to navigate a slick interface like a website which
can be controlled through mobile device apps and gives access to more content
delivered via the Web. For the upcoming Winter Olympics from Sochi, for
example, Comcast is bringing the breadth of NBC's live online coverage to big
screen TVs for the first time through the X1 platform.
The company is likely to caution
against too much optimism for a turnaround in video, however.
Cable operators have been losing
market share to rival telecoms and satellite competitors for years, and
fourth-quarter results are generally boosted by college students re-hooking up
TVs as they start school and by higher TV use during cold winter months. For
the full year, Comcast still lost 305,000 video customers to end the year with
It added 379,000 Internet customers to
finish the year with 20.7 million.
Overall cable revenue rose 5 percent
to $10.66 billion in the fourth quarter.
NBCUniversal posted a 7 percent gain
in revenue to $6.46 billion, helped by bigger audiences for broadcast network
NBC, which has been bolstered by hits "The Voice," ''The
Blacklist" and "Sunday Night Football" from the NFL.
The company also said it is boosting its share buyback authorization to $7.5 billion -- up from $1.5 billion authorized currently -- with $3 billion to be spent in 2014. It raised its quarterly dividend by 15 percent to 22.5 cents per share.