Comcast profit beats estimates as internet subscribers grow

Gerry Smith

Comcast Corp. rose in early trading after third-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates, as the cable giant added more internet subscribers than expected.

Comcast on Thursday reported profit of 79 cents a share, excluding some items. That was up from 68 cents a year earlier and topped analysts’ estimates of 74 cents.

Revenue was $26.8 billion, in line with Wall Street projections.

The company added 379,000 internet customers in the quarter, up from 363,000 a year earlier. The cable giant lost 238,000 cable-TV customers, more than twice as many as it lost the year before. Analysts expected the company to add 334,530 internet customers and lose 201,000 TV customers.

In this Oct. 1, 2019, file photo the symbol for Comcast appears on a screen at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York.

Key Insights

Comcast’s internet business has become its growth driver as more people drop cable-TV subscriptions and sign up for broadband to stream online entertainment.

Selling internet is more profitable, in part because Comcast doesn’t share revenue with channel owners as it does in cable TV. As the internet subscriber base grows and the TV customer base shrinks, analysts expect the cable giant’s profit margins to widen.

In April, Comcast’s NBCUniversal plans to jump into the crowded fight for streaming viewers with a new service called Peacock. It will include reruns of NBC shows, including “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” as well as a slate of original programs.

Market Reaction

Comcast shares rose as much as 3.3% in premarket trading. As of Wednesday’s close they have gained 34% this year, compared with 20% for the S&P 500 Index.