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Comcast earnings: 52 cents EPS, vs. 48 cents expected

  • Comcast beat analyst expectations on the top and bottom line.
  • The media company posted a big pop in film revenue and as NBCUniversal and theme parks both posted double-digit revenue surges.
  • Comcast's Class A shares were up about 17 percent over the past year as of Wednesday's close.

Comcast 's second-quarter earnings beat analyst expectations when the company reported before the bell on Thursday, amid a big pop in film revenue and as NBCUniversal and theme parks both posted double-digit revenue surges.

Filmed entertainment revenue grew 59.6 percent during the quarter amid the release of "Fate of the Furious." The company's Class A shares rose about 1 percent as the market opened on Thursday.

Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast

Here's how the earnings came out

  • EPS: 52 cents a share, versus 48 cents per share expected by a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate
  • Revenue: $21.17 billion, versus $20.86 billion expected by a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate

That's up from earnings of 41 cents per share on revenue of $19.27 billion in the year-ago period.

More consumers turn online for video

Comcast added 114,000 customer relationships during the quarter, fewer than the 116,000 added this time last year, as residential video customers fell more this year. The company added 175,000 high-speed internet customers, a bit less than the 220,000 added a year earlier.

Still, Comcast grew cable communications revenue by 5.5 percent in the period as rate adjustments and high-speed internet customers increased, offsetting a decline in political advertising revenue after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Improving digital customer service offerings has also cut costs, executives said on an earnings call.

Comcast's theme parks also saw more visitors during the quarter, as spring break vacations lined up with attractions like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is at several of its parks; Minion Park in Japan; and Volcano Bay in Orlando, Florida.

The company's vast array of properties — including NBCUniversal content, cable subscribers, wireless service, theme parks and Universal Studios films — have faced a changing media landscape over the past few years.

As many as 64 percent of all U.S. households have a subscription video on-demand service from providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu, up from 47 percent in 2014, according to one estimate from Leichtman Research Group. Netflix's latest earnings reflected that jump, with the company adding 5.2 million total memberships, blowing away Wall Street's estimates for 3.23 million during a historically weak quarter.

Nonetheless, Comcast's box-office hit "The Fate of the Furious" was complemented by a 42.6 percent revenue increase in home entertainment, led by titles like "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Sing."

Comcast thrived over the past year on the back of live events like the Rio Olympics, posting the best video customer results in a decade in 2016. MSNBC, with a focus on political news, has also seen ratings jump, and "World of Dance" has gained share in the broadcast market.

Comcast's Class A shares were up about 17 percent over the past year as of Wednesday's close, better than AT&T, which has seen its shares fall more than 10 percent despite posting better-than-expected second-quarter earnings this week.

NBCUniversal investments in Hulu and Snap have pushed the company into newer content areas. Comcast also announced in May a partnership with Charter on wireless.

AT&T, meanwhile, has proposed a merger with Time Warner while Verizon has acquired Yahoo. Companies like Facebook and Apple are also said to be dabbling in original content.

Despite suggestions that Comcast, too, should make acquisitions, executives said on a conference call that they favor a more targeted, modest approach to competition.

"No disrespect to wireless, it's a tough business," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said on the call. "We really like what we're doing, but it's very very early with Xfinity mobile….it will be a long road. But I don't see something happening in that industry that we envy in a position we don't have today ... I think we have a really special company now and I don't want to do anything to change that."

For instance, executives said, sampling content from new media like BuzzFeed and Vox allows NBCUniversal to work on a half-dozen projects with each start-up. A new show called "The Rundown," on Snapchat, has 5 million to 10 million daily users, the company told analysts on the conference call.

"We launched our fantastic new xFi experience for in-home broadband during the quarter, the latest example of our culture of innovation and continued focus on developing differentiated products and services for our customers," Roberts said in a statement. "Our teams continue to execute incredibly well and I am excited about the opportunities ahead for Comcast NBCUniversal."

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com. CNBC.com has a content-sharing agreement with Vox.