Comcast sinks despite profit beat, as broadband subscribers slip and ad revenue slumps


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A general view of the “SUPER NINTENDO WORLD” entrance at Universal Studios Hollywood on February 16, 2023 in Universal City, California.
Rodin Eckenroth | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Comcast topped both revenue and profit estimates in the third quarter as the company added 294,000 wireless customers and NBCUniversal’s theme park sales soared, the company said Thursday.

NBCUniversal’s flagship streaming service Peacock added 4 million subscribers and revenue increased 64% to $830 million, stemming the subscription service’s quarterly loss to $565 million. Peacock lost $614 million in the same period a year prior on $506 million in revenue.

Here’s how Comcast performed, compared with estimates from analysts surveyed by LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv.

  • Earnings per share: $1.08 adjusted vs. 95 cents estimated
  • Revenue: $30.12 billion vs. $29.68 billion estimated

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, Comcast reported net income of $4 billion, or 98 cents per share, compared with a loss of $4.6 billion, or $1.05 cents per share, a year earlier. Adjusted for one-time items, per-share earnings were $1.08 in the quarter. The prior year’s results were affected by one-time impairment and goodwill charges associated Comcast’s 2018 acquisition of Sky.

Revenue rose 0.9% compared to the prior year period. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 5.1% to $9.96 billion.

Theme parks’ adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization increased 20% to $983 Million — the highest quarterly profit on record for the division — driven by the popularity of Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Hollywood, Comcast said.

Comcast lost 18,000 high-speed broadband customers in the quarter and 490,000 video subscribers as Americans continue to drop traditional cable TV for streaming services. Comcast ended the quarter with 14.5 million video subscribers and 29.8 million residential broadband customers.

U.S. broadband revenue rose 3.8% to $6.4 billion even as subscribers fell due to higher rates.

Wireless revenue rose 16% to $917 million in the quarter. Comcast ended the quarter with 6.3 million wireless customers. Comcast uses Verizon’s network to provide branded Xfinity wireless coverage from an agreement struck in 2016.

‘Oppenheimer’ breaks biopic record

Irish actor Cillian Murphy poses upon his arrival for the “Premiere” of the movie “Oppenheimer” at the Grand Rex cinema in Paris on July 11, 2023. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP) (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)
Julien De Rosa | AFP | Getty Images

Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” which chronicled the life of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, became the highest grossing biopic of all time at the box office, taking in more than $900 million worldwide. Still, theatrical revenue fell 25% to $504 million as last year’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Jurassic World: Dominion” were bigger hits than NBCUniversal’s overall 2023 summer slate.

NBCUniversal media revenue rose 0.4% to $6 billion as distribution revenue rose while U.S. advertising sales fell 8.4% to $1.9 billion. The media division’s adjusted EBITDA increased 6.5% to $723 million as promotional and marketing expenses dropped.

Comcast generated free cash flow of $4 billion in the quarter and returned $4.7 billion to shareholders through dividend payments and share buybacks.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

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