Comcast stock rises after an earnings beat

Key Points
  • Comcast posts fourth-quarter earnings of 64 cents per share adjusted vs. 62 cents per share expected in an analyst survey by Refinitiv.
  • Revenue was $27.846 billion vs. $27.553 billion expected in the survey.
  • Comcast-owned NBCUniversal announced plans for a new streaming service this month that will launch in the first quarter of 2020.
Comcast revenue, EPS beat expectations

Comcast on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that exceeded expectations but fell short on net additions of high speed internet customers. The stock was up 5.5 percent at the end of trading Wednesday.

Here's what Comcast reported versus Wall Street's expectations:

  • Earnings: 64 cents per share adjusted vs. 62 cents per share expected in an analyst survey by Refinitiv
  • Revenue: $27.846 billion vs. $27.553 billion expected in the survey
  • High-speed internet customers: 351,000 net adds vs. 360,000 net adds expected in a FactSet consensus estimate

For its full year 2018, Comcast reported revenue of $94.51 billion, marking 11.1 percent growth from the previous year.

Comcast reported that its earnings for the year increased 25.6 percent to $2.55 per share from 2017, after adjustments that included $12.7 billion in net income benefits factored into the fourth quarter of 2017.

Comcast reported revenue for NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and NBC, at $9.40 billion for the quarter, a 7.1 percent increase from the same quarter last year. The NBCUniversal segment includes broadcast and cable channels as well as theme parks and film studios.

The company said while its revenue from filmed entertainment increased 14 percent to $1.98 billion in the quarter from a year earlier, it was offset by lower content licensing and home entertainment revenue. Comcast said content licensing revenue decreased 8.8 percent due to the timing of content availability under licensing agreements. It also said home entertainment revenue decreased 14.3 percent from the prior year due to the success of several releases in 2017, including "Despicable Me 3."

Comcast reported pro forma revenue for Sky, the British broadcaster for which it finalized its acquisition last quarter after an extensive bidding war with Twenty-First Century Fox. Comcast bid $39 billion for the takeover, outbidding Fox by $3.6 billion. Noting that the results are subject to change as acquisition accounting is finalized, it reported $5.02 billion in revenue for the quarter for Sky. Comcast presented the results as if the acquisition occurred on Jan. 1, 2017, based mainly on historical results of operations and adjusted for purchase price and costs related to the acquisition.

Here's how Comcast's divisions did for the fourth quarter:

  • Cable communications accounted for $14.13 billion in total revenue
  • Cable networks, excluding the Olympics, accounted for $2.89 billion in total revenue
  • Broadcast television, excluding the Olympics and Super Bowl, accounted for $3.10 billion in total revenue
  • Filmed entertainment brought in $1.98 billion in total revenue
  • Theme Parks brought in $1.51 billion in revenue

Last quarter, Comcast beat analyst estimates on the top and bottom lines in what CEO Brian Roberts had said was the company's "best broadband quarter in 10 years."

The company has sought to diversify. Its video segment has steadily declined over the past several quarters and is expected to fall again this quarter, according to FactSet estimates.

NBCUniversal announced plans to enter the streaming space earlier this month. NBCUniversal said it will launch a free, ad-supported streaming service to pay-TV subscribers, including those who subscribe to rival services including Charter, AT&T, Cox and Dish. The service will also be accessible to non-pay-TV subscribers for about $12 per month, a person familiar with the company's plans told CNBC. NBCUniversal said the service will be available in the first quarter of 2020.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and

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Watch: NBCUniversal to launch streaming service in 2020

NBCUniversal to launch streaming service in 2020