Video services

Comcast Narrows Gap on Video Sub Losses

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) posted a 26 percent boost in profits in the fourth quarter as the MSO slowed basic video subscriber losses and raked in gains in other service categories.

Comcast profits jumped to US$1.29 billion in the quarter, or 47 cents per share, on revenues of $15 billion, up 55 percent year-on-year. Analysts were expecting a profit of 41 cents per share on revenues of $14.87 billion for the period. (See Comcast Posts $1.29B Profit in Q4.)

Comcast also continued to narrow video subscriber losses, a category that's been hit by a crummy economy and rising competition. It's not at break-even yet, but Comcast shed just 17,000 video customers in the quarter, versus a loss of 135,000 subs in the year-ago period and 165,000 in the third quarter of 2011.

Comcast also added 336,000 high-speed Internet customers, up from 292,000 adds a year earlier, extending its total to 18.14 million. The MSO also signed on 146,000 digital voice customers in the fourth quarter, off from the 257,000 it added in the year-ago quarter. Comcast ended 2011 with 9.34 million voice subs.

Business-class services continued to serve as a growth engine for the MSO, which recently began to move up market and deliver Metro Ethernet services to mid-sized businesses. Business service revenues reached $498 million in the period, up from a year-ago total of $364 million. (See Comcast Hones 2-Pronged Business Attack.)

Comcast also announced the approval of a new $6.5 billion stock buyback program and raised its annual dividend from 45 cents to 65 cents.

Comcast shares were up $1.85 (6.79 percent) to $29.10 in pre-market trading Wednesday morning.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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