Comcast Beats Q1 Earnings Expectations Helped By Strong Film Sales

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The success of films led by Fifty Shades Darker, Get Out, Split, and Sing helped to overcome sagging cable TV network ad sales in Comcast’s Q1 as it exceeded analyst expectations on both the top and bottom lines.

The stock price is up about 3.9% in pre-market trading.

The cable and entertainment giant generated $2.57 billion in net income, up 20.2% vs the period last year, on revenues of $20.46 billion, up 8.9%. The Street was looking for revenues of $20.12 billion.

Earnings per share came in at 53 cents, ahead of the 44 cents analysts anticipated.

NBCUniversal’s EBITDA increased 24.4% to $2.02 billion on revenues of $7.87 billion, up 14.7%.

“2017 is off to the fastest start in five years,” CEO Brian Roberts says. “We are reporting outstanding growth at Cable and particularly NBCUniversal, … I am excited about our momentum headed into the rest of 2017 and beyond.”

NBCU’s cable networks benefited from increases in their licensing fees — even though declining ratings resulted in a 2.9% drop in ad sales. The unit generated $1.12 billion in EBITDA, up 16.8%, with revenues of $2.64 billion, up 7.6%. Distribution revenues increased 8.6%, despite a decline in cable network subscriptions.

The NBC broadcast TV unit also depended on rising distribution fees for the 13.4% increase in EBITDA, to $322 million, and 5.9% improvement in revenues, to $2.21 billion. The retransmission charges increased 33.4%. Ad sales were up 0.3% with higher rates offsetting lower volume and ratings.

The Universal film unit was the standout with a 120.6% improvement in EBITDA to $368 million with revenues up 43.2% to $1.98 billion. Theatrical revenues rose nearly 176% to $651 million.

Theme parks held their own with EBITDA up 6.1% to $397 million on revenues of $1.12 billion, up 9.0%.  Comcast attributes that to the rising attendance and per capita spending despite, as it puts it, “unfavorable comparison from the timing of spring break vacations.”

At Comcast’s main cable systems business, EBITDA improved 6.3% to $5.20 billion on revenues of $12.91 billion, up 5.8%. It added 42,000 video subscribers, for a total of 22.549 million.

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