Comcast continued adding internet customers in the fourth quarter, helping lift its net income 26%.
The Philadelphia company, which owns NBCUniversal and European broadcaster Sky as well as a providing cable and internet service in the U.S., has been focusing on broadband as more people quit traditional cable. Providing internet is more profitable for Comcast than supplying cable video service.
It added 442,000 internet customers in the fourth quarter, while losing 149,000 video customers. It lost 733,000 video customers in 2019, and expects to lose more in 2020 as it raises prices and more people shift to getting TV on the internet. A newer business for Comcast Corp. is mobile, and it added 261,000 cellphone lines. Overall, the video-and-internet division's revenue rose 2.6% to $14.77 billion.
While more than 80 million U.S. households still pay for cable TV, the move to video on the internet prompted Comcast to launch a streaming service, Peacock, later this year, into a market crowded with services from its rivals.
In its NBCUniversal division, revenue dropped 2.6% to $9.15 billion, hurt by the weak debut of “Cats” at the box office.
Overall profit came to $3.16 billion, or 68 cents per share, from $2.51 billion, or 55 cents per share, the year before. Excluding one-time costs, earnings were 79 cents per share, topping the average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research of 75 cents per share.
Revenue rose 2% to $28.4 billion, beating the analysts' estimate of $28.19 billion.
Comcast shares fell $1.03, or 2.2%, to $46.41 in mid-morning trading. They have climbed 36% in the last 12 months.