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CNBC Transcript: Comcast CEO Brian Roberts on CNBC's "Fast Money" Today

WHEN: TODAY, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12TH

WHERE: CNBC'S "FAST MONEY"

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts today on CNBC's "Fast Money." Following is a link to the video of the interview on CNBC.com: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?play=1&video=3000147601.

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

MELISSA LEE: LET'S NOW GO TO BRIAN ROBERTS, WHO IS OF COURSE THE CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF COMCAST JOINING US THIS EVENING FROM 30 ROCK, SOON TO BE ONE OF HIS PRODUCTS -- PROPERTIES. BRIAN, GREAT TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

BRIAN ROBERTS: GREAT TO BE WITH YOU.

LEE: I'M GOING TO ASK YOU THE SAME QUESTION THAT I ASKED THE TRADERS HERE ON THE DESK. WHY NOW, WHEN YOU HAD UP TO SEVEN YEARS TO BUY THE REMAINING STAKE THAT GE OWNED. WHY PULL THE TRIGGER AT THIS POINT?

ROBERTS: I THINK THERE'S A SIMPLE ANSWER. WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT THE FUTURE PROSPECTS FOR NBC UNIVERSAL. AND WE DIDN'T HAVE TO DO IT. GE DIDN'T HAVE TO SELL NOW. BUT WE CAME TO AN UNDERSTANDING THAT I THINK WORKS OUT WELL FOR EVERYBODY. THEY HAVE A LOT OF CASH, AS YOU JUST DESCRIBED. AND WE, OUR SHAREHOLDERS HAVE 100% OF THE UPSIDE HERE. AND PRICE IS PRETTY SIMILAR TO THE SAME PRICE WHEN WE STARTED. BUT WE HAVE TWO YEARS UNDER OUR BELT. WE HAVE COMPLETED THE INTEGRATION. WE'RE EXCITED WITH OUR MANAGEMENT TEAM IN PLACE. AND WE THINK THE FUTURE PROSPECTS, WHETHER IT'S THE TURN AROUND AT NBC THE NETWORK, THE CABLE CHANNELS CONTINUE TO DO WELL AND GROW, WE'RE ANNOUNCING TONIGHT OUR FOURTH QUARTER, WE WERE OVER 11% CASH FLOW GROWTH IN THE QUARTER FOR NBC UNIVERSAL. THE FILM BUSINESS HAS HAD SOME GOOD HITS RECENTLY. AND, OF COURSE, THE THEME PARKS, WHICH HAS BEEN ONE OF THE BIGGEST SURPRISES FOR US, CONTINUE TO GROW AND WE'RE INVESTING AND WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT THEIR PROSPECTS, AS WELL. SO ALL AND ALL IT'S BORN OUT OF BULLISHNESS.

LEE: AND YOU HAVE SAID YOU KNOW PRETTY MUCH WITHIN A YEAR OF AN INITIAL ACQUISITION WHETHER OR NOT THIS THING IS GOING TO WORK OUT. SO, PRESUMABLY, THIS HAD BEEN IN THE WORKS, YOU KNEW YOU WANTED TO BUY THE REMAINING STAKE PRIOR TO THAT SEVEN-YEAR TIMETABLE EXPIRING.

ROBERTS: WELL, WE SAID ALL ALONG THAT WE DIDN'T HAVE TO, WE WANTED TO BUY 100% OVER TIME. WE WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAD THE RIGHT BALANCE SHEET. WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO SELL SOME NON-STRATEGIC ASSETS, SUCH AS THE MINORITY STAKE IN A AND E AND HISTORY CHANNEL. WONDERFUL ASSETS BUT WE GOT A PRETTY ATTRACTIVE PRICE. WE SOLD OUR WIRELESS SPECTRUM OF SPECTRUM CO OUR SHARE TO VERIZON WIRELESS WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO HAVE GE TAKE BACK $4 BILLION OF SELLER FINANCING AT THESE HISTORICALLY LOW INTEREST RATES. SO, FOR OUR SHAREHOLDERS, THIS SEEMED LIKE A GREAT TIME TO BET ON A COMPANY THAT WE NOW HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION OF THE BUSINESSES, BETTER THAN WE DID AT THE FIRST TIME WHEN WE MADE THE ACQUISITION. AND I'M REALLY EXCITED. I THINK IT'S A HISTORIC DAY. I THINK BACK TO MY DAD STARTING COMCAST IN 1963 AND WHERE WE ARE NOW WITH COMCAST NBC UNIVERSAL. WE'RE VERY PROUD AND EXCITED.

LEE: I WOULD IMAGINE THAT THE COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE, BRIAN, PLAYED SOME ROLE. AS THE LINES BETWEEN CONTENT DISTRIBUTORS AND CONTENT PROVIDERS, CONTENT CREATORS INCREASINGLY GET BLURRED, TALK TO US ABOUT HOW THAT PLAYED A ROLE, IF ANY, IN THIS DEAL AND WANTING TO OWN ENTIRELY NBC UNIVERSAL.

ROBERTS: WELL, WE KNEW SOME DAY WE WERE GOING TO OWN IT ALL ANYWAY. SO, THE BASIC QUESTION IS, DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE TO PAY MORE LATER? AND AT THE SAME TIME, TO YOUR POINT, DO YOU THINK THE TREND OF VALUE AND GROWTH FOR NBC UNIVERSAL IS ATTRACTIVE? AND WE'VE HAD A REALLY GOOD COUPLE OF YEARS AND WE THINK THE FUTURE, YOU KNOW, WE'RE LONG-TERM STEADY AND PATIENT BUT ULTIMATELY, WE WANTED TO OWN 100%. WE WANTED TO ACT AS ONE COMPANY. WE WORK ON PROJECTS LIKE SYMPHONY, WHICH WE WORK BETWEEN THE CABLE DIVISION AND NBC AND WITHIN ALL OF THE VARIOUS PROPERTIES WITHIN NBC UNIVERSAL. I WANT TO MENTION THAT A BIG PART OF TODAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT IS OUR EARNINGS, AND WE CAN TALK MORE ABOUT THAT TONIGHT OR LATER, BUT THE CABLE DIVISION, THE CABLE BUSINESS, HAD A SUPER QUARTER IN MY OPINION. AND OUR SUBSCRIBERS AND INTERNET SUBSCRIBER, VIDEO SUBSCRIBERS, PHONE SUBSCRIBERS WERE ALL BETTER THAN LAST YEAR THIS FOURTH QUARTER AND WE'RE CONTINUATION OF SOME ATTRACTIVE TRENDS AND HENCE THE BOARD IS AUTHORIZING A 20% INCREASE IN THE DIVIDEND AND A CONTINUATION OF $2 BILLION STOCK BUY-BACK IN 2013. SO, IT'S A LOT OF NEWS TONIGHT. ALL OF WHICH IS THE COMBINED COMCAST NBC UNIVERSAL FEELING VERY EXCITED ABOUT 2012 AND OFF TO A GOOD START IN 2013.

KAREN FINERMAN: MR. ROBERTS, IT'S KAREN. LET ME ASK YOU, WITH THE DIVIDEND INCREASE, THE BUY-BACK INCREASE AND THE PURCHASE HERE, YOU'RE LEVERING UP, WHICH WOULD SEEM TO BE A BULLISH BET WHICH FITS WITH WHAT YOU ARE SAYING. HOW MUCH MORE LEVERED YOU ARE GOING TO BE POST THIS TRANSACTION THAN WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW?

ROBERTS: WELL THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT THE NEWS. WE ALREADY HAVE ABOUT $11 BILLION IN CASH FROM THE PROCEEDS OF ALL THE THINGS THAT I MENTIONED A MOMENT AGO. AND THE TOTAL CASH OUTLAY IS JUST NORTH OF 13, SO, WE DRAW DOWN ABOUT $2 BILLION OFF OUR LINES OF CREDIT, AS YOU MENTIONED. SO, THE OVERALL LEVERAGE OF THE COMPANY WILL BE ABOUT 2.4 TIMES ON, RIGHT AT CLOSING, WHICH WE EXPECT FAIRLY SOON. AND THEN, WE INTEND TO BE -- TO, OVER TIME, TRY TO IMPROVE OUR CREDIT RATING AS MANY OF OUR PEERS THAT ARE LARGE ISSUERS OF CAPITAL AND SO, I THINK THIS WILL DELEVER US INTO THE 1.5 TO 2 TIMES CASH FLOW RANGE OVER TIME AND THAT'S SORT OF OUR HOPED FOR TARGET. SO, I THINK IT'S NOT A BIG RISK BECAUSE WE HAD SO MUCH CASH ON THE BALANCE SHEET AND BECAUSE MOST INVESTORS EXPECTED US TO BUY IT AT SOME POINT, HAVING CERTAINTY AROUND THE PRICE AT 16.7, PLUS THE REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION, AT $16.7 BILLION, I THINK THAT'S RIGHT IN THE RANGE OR MAYBE ON THE BETTER SIDE THAT PEOPLE HAD HOPED WE MIGHT HAVE TO PAY AND OF COURSE IF WE WAITED DOWN THE ROAD, IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN MORE OR LESS, AND SO WE'RE MAKING THAT BET TODAY THAT WE THINK IT HOPEFULLY WILL BE MORE.

LEE: BRIAN, IT SEEMS LIKE MAYBE NOW YOU MIGHT HAVE YOUR HANDS FULL, BUT YOU HAD SEVEN YEARS TO DO THIS OVER AND YOU COULD HAVE CHOSEN A DIFFERENT PATH, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN TO BEEF UP YOUR OVERSEAS PRESENCE AND MAKE A BID FOR VIRGIN MEDIA. I'M WONDERING IF THAT EVER CROSSED YOUR RADAR TO ACTUALLY BEEF UP OVERSEAS AND MAKE A BID LIKE THAT.

ROBERTS: YOU KNOW, I THINK THE POINT THAT WAS MADE BEFORE I CAME ON THE AIR ABOUT, YOU KNOW THESE ASSETS WELL, AND THAT WE'RE, YOU KNOW, WE SPENT SEVERAL YEARS LEARNING THEM, HAVING AN OPPORTUNITY TO BUY MORE AND TO INVEST IN CONTENT, FEELS LIKE THE RIGHT THING FOR OUR COMPANY RIGHT NOW. AND YOU CAN SAY, WHY IS THAT? WELL, WE REALLY DO THINK THAT THERE ARE MORE REVENUE STREAMS COMING ON EVERY DAY, WHETHER IT'S SUBSCRIBTION VIDEO ON DEMAND OR SUBSCRIPTION FROM DISTRIBUTORS OR MAKING BETTER SHOWS, AS WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO DO OR TAKE THE SPORTS BUSINESS, WHEN WE BOUGHT THE COMPANY, WE HAD SEVERAL YEARS OF LOSSES IN SPORTS. WE'RE NOW ABLE TO SAY WE'RE SLIGHTLY PROFITABLE IN SPORTS. WE'VE RESTRUCTURED OUR DEAL WITH THE OLYMPICS, THE OLYMPICS WAS FANTASTIC LAST YEAR FOR ALL PARTS OF THE COMPANY, THE SUPER BOWL AND THE NFL RELATIONSHIP AND NOW THE NHL'S BACK PLAYING. SO, YOU PUT ALL THAT TOGETHER, THERE'S A SENSE OF ENTHUSIASM AND CONFIDENCE ON THE FUTURE OF NBC UNIVERSAL, SO, I CAN'T THINK OF A BETTER PLACE FOR US TO MAKE AN INVESTMENT RIGHT NOW FOR OUR COMPANY THAN MAKING THIS TRANSACTION.

LEE: AND OF COURSE PART OF YOUR DEAL IS TO BUY THE REAL ESTATE PROPERTIES OF GE AT 30 ROCK AS WELL AS IN NEW JERSEY, WHICH WOULD INCLUDE CNBC WORLD HEADQUARTERS IN ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS. IN TERMS OF 30 ROCK, CERTAINLY AN ICONIC BUILDING, RIGHT NOW, GE'S LOGO IS AT THE TOP OF THAT ICONIC BUILDING. ARE THERE ANY PLANS TO PUT NBC UNIVERSAL INSTEAD?

ROBERTS: NOT SOMETHING WE'RE FOCUSED ON, TALKING ABOUT TODAY.

LEE: IT'S NOT A TOP PRIORITY?

ROBERTS: IT'S A PRIORITY. WE HAVE A LOT ON OUR PLATE TODAY. BUT IT IS A WONDERFUL GROUP OF REAL ESTATE PROPERTIES WE THINK IT'S A VERY FAIR TRANSACTION FOR THAT BUT YOU PUT IT ALL TOGETHER, IT IS AN EXCITING AND, I THINK SPECIAL TIME FOR ALL OF US AT COMCAST AND NBC UNIVERSAL. ALL BE ONE COMPANY.

LEE: BRIAN, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US THIS EVENING. CONGRATULATIONS ON THE DEAL, OF COURSE.


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