By Emily Bary
All three of Comcast's business units post saw revenue climb more than anticipated for third quarter
Shares of Comcast Corp. are heading higher Thursday after the media giant topped revenue expectations across all three of its business segments for the third quarter.
The highlight of Comcast's results was once again its cable business, as more people relied on high-speed internet to work from home. The company also saw growing revenue from its Sky unit as European football resumed, while the revenue declines for NBCUniversal weren't as steep as feared despite theme-park closures and disruptions to the film business.
The stock rose 2.7% in midday trading, a day after closing at a 3-month low.
In cable, Comcast disclosed 556,000 total customer relationship net additions in cable communications for the third quarter, which it called its best quarterly result on record. Comcast posted 633,000 net additions for high-speed internet, while it saw a net loss of 273,000 total video subscribers.
Overall, cable communications revenue rose to $15 billion for the quarter from $14.6 billion a year prior. The revenue came in ahead of the FactSet consensus, which called for $14.7 billion.
"The broadband result is nothing short of (we search for words here) astounding," wrote MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett, who has a buy rating and a $50 price target on the shares.
As good as Comcast's subscriber metrics were, he said, "valuation hinges on margins rising and capital intensity falling," and the company saw positive trends on both those fronts in Thursday's results.
Comcast's NBCUniversal segment felt the sting from theme park closures due to the pandemic as well as pressures in the media landscape. Overall NBCUniversal revenue dropped to $6.72 billion from $8.3 billion. Analysts were expecting $6.46 billion in revenue.
Within the segment, theme-park revenue decreased to $311 million from $1.63 billion. This was "primarily due to Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Japan operating at limited capacity, while Universal Studios Hollywood remains closed as a result of COVID-19," the company said in its release.
Comcast anticipates that the theme-park business will break even "at some point in 2021, independent of what occurs with Universal Studios Hollywood," Chief Executive Brian Roberts said on the company's earnings call.
While theme parks are a big drag on results currently given closures, capacity restrictions, and a weak travel landscape, the parks "still have long-term value," Moffett argued. Inside of NBCUniversal, Comcast arguably has bigger long-term issues with its cable networks and broadcast TV segments, he said, as "obsolescence of the businesses themselves is becoming increasingly pressing."
In cable networks, he worries about "general entertainment networks like USA Today" and how they'll fare as the world increasingly moves to streaming. In broadcast, ratings are falling in what Moffett deems to be a "secular, not cyclical" pattern.
"Peacock is a welcome growth story here, but, as an ad supported platform, usage will need to be followed by ad sales in real volume to fully offset the long-term declines in the legacy businesses," he continued.
Revenue for Comcast's Sky European TV business increased to $4.79 billion from $4.55 billion, benefitting from the return of European football leagues. Analysts had been modeling $4.22 billion.
Overall, Comcast saw its revenue for the quarter decrease to $25.53 billion from $26.82 billion, whereas analysts surveyed by FactSet were projecting $24.74 billion. Adjusted earnings per share fell to 65 cents from 79 cents, while analysts had been modeling 52 cents.
Shares have lost 1.8% over the past three months as the S&P 500 has risen 2.0%.
-Emily Bary; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 29, 2020 12:23 ET (16:23 GMT)
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