Growth in digital cable and high-speed data fueled
increases in revenue and cash flow at Comcast Corp. for the third quarter.
Revenue rose 23.2 percent to $1.5 billion and operating
cash flow rose 24.3 percent to $463.9 million. Pro forma revenue rose 13.8 percent and pro
forma operating cash flow was up 12.5 percent compared with the same period a year ago.
Consolidated cable revenue rose 9.1 percent to $774 million
and cable cash flow increased 10.4 percent to $357 million.
Comcast reported net income of $60.6 million, or 7 cents
per share, down from $723.6 million (97 cents) a year earlier. But the 1998 profit was
largely due to one-time gains, including $1.092 billion before taxes from Teleport
Communications Group's sale to AT&T Corp. Comcast was a shareholder in TCG.
Wall Street expected Comcast to report a profit of about 4
cents per share, and the company got a big lift from the difference. Its stock price rose
to $40.25 at last Monday's close, up $3.38, or 9 percent.
Over nine months, revenue rose 19 percent to $4.4 billion
and operating cash flow rose 18 percent to $1.3 billion. Pro forma revenue and operating
cash flow rose 13.8 percent and 16.3 percent, respectively.
"These outstanding results confirm the continuing
strength of each of our businesses, as well as the growth potential of new initiatives in
cable, QVC and our other programming businesses," Comcast president Brian Roberts
said in a statement.
Comcast's numbers also included results from Jones
Intercable Inc. At Jones, which also reported separately, revenue rose 2.3 percent to
$136.1 million, but cash flow dipped 22.7 percent to $52.9 million due to payouts to
executives who left after Comcast took control of Jones in April.
Comcast treasurer John Alchin told analysts on a call
Monday that the MSO added 7,700 cable subscribers in the quarter -- double last year's
increase. In the past 12 months, the MSO's cable rolls swelled about 1.4 percent.
The real growth was in digital. Systems added more than
330,000 digital subscribers in the past 12 months. Alchin said digital cable has now
penetrated about 10 percent of the market base.
Comcast averaged 6,000 new digital customers per week in
the period, but that number is growing, too. Alchin said the MSO averaged 11,000 new
digital subscribers per week in October, and it now has more than 400,000 digital
Comcast added 10 new digital systems in October, and it now
has the product available in 51 of its systems.
Comcast averaged about 1,550 new Comcast@Home data
customers per week, and it finished the quarter with about 113,000 high-speed-data
At the QVC networks, revenue rose 18 percent to $677.1
million and cash flow surged 20.2 percent to $124.8 million.