It must feel good for the executives from Philadelphia to issue a quarterly earnings report that doesn’t have to urge investors to be patient with NBCUniversal. The cable and entertainment giant generated net income in Q3 of nearly $3B, up 155.4% vs the period last year, on revenues of $16.5B, +15.4%. Comcast‘s revenue figure was well ahead of the $16.1B that analysts expected. And after factoring out one-time gains from the sale of wireless spectrum to Verizon Wireless, and NBCUniversal’s interest in A&E Networks, earnings per share came in a 46 cents — just what the Street anticipated. NBCUniversal more than held its own this time, although with some caveats. The cable networks delivered $2.2B in revenues (+3.2%) and $809M in operating cash flow (+7.6%) as increases in payments from pay TV distributors compensated for what the company says were “flat” advertising sales in the quarter. NBC’s broadcast operations, puffed up by the Olympics, generated $2.8B in revenues (+83.8%) with operating cash flow of $88M (up from a $7M loss last year). The picture looks far less cheery, though, if you take away the impact of the London Games: That would have left broadcast revenues of $1.6B (+5.2%) and a cash flow loss of $25M due to the high programming costs for fall season shows and news expenses to cover the presidential election.
At the Universal Studios film unit, hits including Ted and The Bourne Legacy contributed to revenues of $1.4B (+23.6%) and operating cash flow of $72M (+31.1%). And Universal’s theme park revenues came in at $614M (+5.8%) with operating cash flow of $316M (+11.2%).
Comcast also has a relatively upbeat story to tell at its core cable operations business. It ended up with 22M video customers, a loss of 117,000 — which is a bit smaller loss than many analysts expected. It more than made up for that with gains in broadband subscribers (+287,000 to 19M) and phone customers (+123,000 to 9.8M). Video revenues came in at $5B (+2.7%) with broadband at $2.4B (+8.8%) and voice at $895M (+1.5%).
CEO Brian Roberts says that the numbers “show real strength in every part of the business.” He adds that the Olympics “exceeded all our expectations and our entire company contributed to their success, proving how effective we can be when we bring together our unique assets and capabilities.”