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Olympics Help Boost Comcast's Broadcast Revenue 83%

Comcast Cable Subscribers Decline Again but Less Than Last Year

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Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company and the majority owner of NBC, said third-quarter profit more than doubled, boosted by advertising revenue, the sale of assets and a decrease in the loss of subscribers.

The Olympics gave NBC Universal a big boost.
The Olympics gave NBC Universal a big boost.

Revenue at the NBC Universal division rose 31% to $6.8 billion, buoyed in particular by the London Olympics. Excluding the games, NBC Universal revenue increased 8%, the company said. The broadcast segment saw revenue, including $1.2 billion from the Olympics, increase 83%; broadcast revenue excluding the games rose 5%.

The Olympics broke even for Comcast, which said it now expects future games to be profitable.

But NBC Universal also benefited from films such as "The Bourne Legacy" and "Ted," Comcast said.

Net income climbed to $2.11 billion, or 78 cents a share, from $908 million, or 33 cents, a year earlier, the company said today in a statement. Excluding some one-time gains, profit was 46 cents a share, in line with the average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue rose 15% to $16.5 billion, beating the average estimate of $16.1 billion.

Comcast has upgraded its video services and broadband speeds and produced ratings gains at the once-struggling NBC, which drew more viewers from 18 to 40 years old in the first few weeks of the new season. A revival of the network would help Chairman-CEO Brian Roberts capitalize on his $13.8 billion gamble on NBC Universal.

The company lost 117,000 video subscribers in the period, less than the 165,000 that left the cable company a year earlier. Analysts had estimated a loss of about 124,000 on average. Comcast also added 287,000 broadband customers and 123,000 phone customers. Analysts had projected a gain of 264,000 Internet subscribers and 120,000 phone customers.

"Their operations are solid," Todd Mitchell, an analyst at Brean Capital in New York, said in an interview before the report was released.

Comcast's stock rose 2.1% to $37.11 in early trading in New York. Shares of the Philadelphia-based company, up 53% this year, closed at $36 .36 yesterday.

Comcast also is benefiting from the sale of assets, such as NBC Universal's stake in A&E Networks, which Comcast agreed to sell for $3.03 billion. That deal added 12 cents a share to earnings in the quarter, Comcast said.

A sale of wireless spectrum to Verizon Wireless generated 20 cents a share in the period. In that transaction, Verizon agreed to pay $3.6 billion for airwaves from a group of cable companies led by Comcast. The deal won government clearance in August.

~Bloomberg News~

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