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Comcast profit beats estimates as internet customer base grows

A Comcast truck in Pittsburgh.
Comcast’s internet business has become the main driver of growth as consumers drop their TV subscriptions in favor of online entertainment.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Comcast Corp.’s profit beat estimates as its internet subscriber growth helped offset faster losses in its TV business.

Comcast said Thursday that it added 209,000 internet subscribers in the quarter, trailing the year-earlier pace. The company also shed 224,000 pay-TV customers.

Investors are paying close attention to Comcast’s internet business, which has become the main driver of growth as consumers drop their TV subscriptions in favor of online entertainment.

Providing internet service is an especially profitable line of business for Comcast because the Philadelphia-based cable giant doesn’t have to share a chunk of revenue with channel owners. The company has also been raising internet prices.

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Shares fell as much as 2.4% in New York trading before recovering. They were up 0.6% at 11:11 a.m. EDT.

Comcast’s internet subscriber growth was higher than the 204,000 analysts projected. The company added 260,000 internet customers a year earlier.

Pay-TV loss

The loss of pay-TV customers was worse than projected and 60% more than a year ago. On Wednesday, AT&T Inc., another pay-TV provider, reported record video-subscriber losses, but its shares went up. It’s a sign of investors’ increasing comfort with the idea that cord-cutting isn’t an existential threat to telecom companies.

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Comcast reported profit of 78 cents a share, excluding some items. That was up from 69 cents a year earlier and topped analysts’ estimates of 75 cents. Revenue was little changed at $26.9 billion, missing Wall Street projections.

Sales at Comcast’s NBCUniversal, which includes the NBC broadcast channel, cable channels like USA, and the Universal film studio, totaled $8.2 billion in the quarter, roughly flat from a year ago.

Revenue at Sky, a European pay-TV giant that Comcast bought last year, fell 3.3% on a pro forma basis. Sky’s advertising revenue dropped, partly due to economic uncertainty over Brexit in the U.K.


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