Comcast has become so big and complex that its earnings are almost always mixed — and Q2 was no exception, although the combination of soft revenue growth with strong profits sent shares up 2.1% in pre-market trading. The cable giant reported net income of $2.03B, +16.1% vs the period last year, on revenues of $16.84B, +3.5%. Analysts expected the top line to come in a little higher, at $16.95B. But earnings at 76 cents a share handily beat the consensus forecast of 72 cents.
NBCUniversal also seemed to have a split personality with operating cash flow +20.4% to $1.43B while revenues were +0.3% to $6.02B. The main Cable Networks operation saw sales grow 2.6% to $2.48B with affiliate fees +4.2% while ad sales fell 2.2%. Still, by controlling costs, the unit’s operating cash flow rose 6.3% to $914M. The Broadcast Television unit told a similar story: With rising retransmission consent fees, its revenues increased 4.9% to $1.8B. But ad sales fell 1.7%, which the network partly attributes to having fewer hours of The Voice than it had last year. Still, broadcast operating cash flow increased 16.2% to $240M reflecting, the company says, “a slight increase in operating costs and expenses.” Theme Parks proved to be NBCU’s most consistent performer despite the increased costs for Orlando’s The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley attraction which opened this month. Attendance and spending were both up, resulting in a 12.8% increase in revenues to $615M with operating cash flow +5.6% to $244M.
Filmed Entertainment continued the weak revenue, strong profit theme in Q2 with a smaller slate that was no match for last year which included Fast & Furious 6 and Despicable Me 2. Sales dropped 15.3% to $1.2B, although the reduction in ad and marketing expenses helped it to report a growth in operating cash flow to $195M vs. $33M last year.
Of course all of this was dwarfed by Comcast’s main cable business. Revenues there increased 5.4% to $11.03B while operating cash flow rose 5.3% to $4.56B. The company lost 144,000 video customers, bringing its total to 22.46M, but that was largely offset by growth in high-speed data and voice subscriptions — especially for its triple play package.
CEO Brian Roberts praised the “strong momentum” across cable and content. NBCU, he added, “had another excellent quarter with double-digit operating cash flow growth driven by solid results in each segment and a first place finish for NBC in the 2013/2014 broadcast television season.”