Comcast Notches Strong Q3


Basic subscribers continued to fall during the third quarter at Comcast, but strong financial growth -- revenue and cash flow rose about 7% each -- offset any analyst concerns about sluggish customer metrics.
Total revenue for the period was up 7.3% to $9.5 billion and operating cash flow rose 7.6% to $3.6 billion, the third consecutive quarter of positive growth in those metrics. But basic subscribers, already hammered by the economy and competition, fell below even analysts' revised expectations, declining by 275,000 customers in the period. The analysts' consensus estimate was for losses of about 189,000 video customers in the period.
In a conference call with analysts, Comcast cable president Neil Smit said that about 40% of the video losses were from lower-end customers, particularly those who signed on to one-year promotional deals during the digital transition in early 2009 and rolled off those promotions in the second and third quarter. While not releasing any details, Comcast said that video trends are improving month to month and that is continuing into October.
High-speed data customers, while still growing, continued to rise at a slower rate as the pressures of the economy continued to take their toll. Comcast added about 249,000 high speed data customers (compared to 361,000 in the third quarter last year). Digital voice customers rose by 219,000 in the period, behind analysts expectations of about 260,000 additions.
Comcast said that it is continuing with several initiatives -- it has rolled out DOCSIS 3.0 in about 80% of its footprint and about 65% of its markets are all-digital. Roberts pointed to the MSO's relaunch of XFinity TV, its TV everywhere initiative, which gives customers access to about 150,000 entertainment choices, including about 11,000 movies and its plans to offer applications on Iphones, Ipads and Android tablets in the future.
"We have an exciting roadmap for new product introductions and we're delivering more and faster innovations to our customers. All of these enhancements and features really are starting to bring life to the XFinity brand," Roberts said.