We should add Ted 2 and Pitch Perfect to the barrage of films that contributed to the 92.7% revenue increase at Universal Studios in Q2 — helping parent Comcast to beat the Street’s revenue expectations and match for earnings.
The cable giant generated $2.14 billion in net income, up 7.3% vs the period last year, on revenues of $18.74 billion, up 11.3%. Analysts expected the top line to come in at $18.14 billion. Earnings at 84 cents a share were on target.
The numbers “demonstrate the strength and momentum we are seeing across our businesses,” CEO Brian Roberts says. NBCUNiversal “had an exceptional quarter, led by the record-breaking box office performances…and continued strong momentum in our theme parks.” He adds that the company’s “teams are executing incredibly well across our strong and diversified portfolio.”
At NBCU, the largest unit — cable networks — had less to cheer about. Revenues fell 1.0% to $2.45 billion and operating cash flow declined 4.6% to $914 million. Much of that was due to a slip in content licensing. But ad sales were down 3%, offset by a 5.6% increase in the payments NBCU collects from cable, satellite and other distributors.
The NBC broadcast network and related operations fared slightly better, with revenues off 0.2% to $1.81 billion and operating cash flow down 3.7% to $231 million. What the company calls a “slight increase” in ad revenues and retransmission consent fees was offset by lower content licensing, and operation expenses — even though programming costs fell due to “the timing of the airing” of some prime time shows.
Filmed Entertainment came to NBCU’s rescue with the 92.7% jump in revenues to $2.27 billion, and a 116.6% increase in operating cash flow to $422 million.
Theme Parks continued to perform, helped by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley in Orlando. Revenues were up 25.7% to $773 million with operating cash flow increasing 44.9% to $354 million. The company attributes the increases to higher attendance and per capita spending.
Investors may breathe a sigh of relief about the numbers at Comcast’s core business, its cable systems. Although they lost 69,000 video customers — for a total of 22.3 million — that’s about half the damage that analysts anticipated, and half the loss cable saw in the same quarter last year. With rate hikes and service upselling, video revenues increased 3.7% to $5.43 billion.
Meanwhile Comcast added 180,000 broadband customers, for a total of 22.5 million. Revenues for this service increased 10.0% to $3.10 billion