Comcast Posts Strong Fourth-Quarter Financials Thanks To NBCUniversal Bump

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Comcast beat Wall Street estimates in the fourth quarter of 2018 as it reported financials for British pay-TV giant Sky for the first time.

The conglomerate reported earnings per share of 64 cents with revenue growing 26% to $27.8B for the quarter and $94.5B for the year. Comcast CEO and Chairman Brian Roberts called it a “successful” and “pivotal” year.

NBCUniversal performed well with revenues increasing 7.1% to $9.4B in the quarter and up 8.9% to $35.8B for the year. Fourth quarter EBITDA rose 12.3% to $2.1B as a result of growth in broadcast and cable TV, although this was partially offset by losses in film.

Higher distribution and content licensing helped boost cable networks revenue over the quarter by 8.9% to $2.9B with 10.3% growth in distribution revenue and steady advertising numbers. For the year, revenue grew 8.6% and EBITDA grew 9.3% to $4.4B.

On the broadcast side, revenues grew 3.7% to $3.1B for the quarter with advertising revenue growing 2.1% and for the year, NBC grew revenues by 19.6% to $11.4B. Taking out the boons of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and the Super Bowl, numbers grew 7.1%.

However, film was down 5.8% to $7.2B over the year reflecting lower home entertainment, theatrical, other and content licensing revenue with EBITDA also falling 42.5% to $734M. There was good news for the fourth quarter, though as revenue increased 14% to $2B thanks to the performance of Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch and Halloween.

The company also posted figures for Sky for the first time after acquiring the European pay-TV operator earlier this year. Revenue at the Bulletproof broadcaster increased 2.4% to $5B in the fourth quarter as a result of higher direct-to-consumer, content and advertising revenue. Advertising revenue increased 2.9% to $682M, driven by increased sports inventory in Italy and Germany and growth in advanced advertising in the UK.

For the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, Sky revenue increased 8.4% to $19.8B compared to 2017. It also added 164,000 customers in the fourth quarter to 23.6M and by  735,000 for the year.

Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Corporation, said, “2018 was a successful and pivotal year for Comcast. I’m pleased with the strong operational and financial results that we delivered across the company. Highlighting a few of our accomplishments during the past year, Comcast Cable’s customer relationship growth accelerated, driven by our 13th consecutive year of over 1 million broadband net additions. 2018 Cable EBITDA growth was the highest in seven years, underscoring the financially attractive transition of our business to connectivity.”

“NBCUniversal had a great year, fueled by double-digit growth in our TV businesses, reflecting our terrific broadcasts of big events like the NFL’s Super Bowl LII, the 2018 Olympics, and the FIFA World CupTM, and overall robust demand for our leading sports, news and entertainment content. We truly became a global company with our acquisition of Sky, and are excited about its future and the potential of our combined company in 2019 and beyond. Comcast’s track record of consistent financial performance and our confidence in our outlook for continued, profitable growth is what underpins our announcement of a 10% increase in our dividend in 2019, our 11th consecutive annual increase,” he added.

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