Gains in digital-cable and high-speed-data subscribers drove revenue and
cash-flow growth in the first quarter at Comcast Corp. and spurred the company
to up its financial guidance for the year.
Comcast president Brian Roberts told analysts in a conference call discussing
first-quarter results that operating cash flow for the year should rise from the
previously announced level of between 10 percent and 11 percent to between 12
percent and 13 percent.
He added that strong growth in digital cable and high-speed data -- in
addition to the smooth transition of an additional 1.2 million customers
acquired through various swaps with AT&T Corp. and Adelphia Communications
Corp. -- was the main reason for the upgraded guidance.
For the quarter, Comcast reported revenue of $2.2 billion, up 13.3 percent,
and operating cash flow of $641 million, up 9.2 percent from the same period
last year. Cable revenue was up 8.7 percent to $1.1 billion and operating cash
flow rose 11.1 percent to $439.2 million.
The MSO doubled its high-speed-data installs in the period to 90,000, ending
with 542,000 customers. Digital-cable subscribers rose by 159,000 in the quarter
to 1.56 million.
At QVC Inc., revenue was up 7.7 percent to $884 million and operating cash
flow increased 19 percent to $171.7 million.
Roberts added that Comcast is moving ahead with its rebuild plan and it
expects 86 percent of systems to be upgraded to 750-megahertz capacity and 95
percent to be at 550 MHz by the end of this year. Comcast plans to spend about
$438 million on upgrades this year.
He said the company is trying to rebuild its systems as fast as it can to
deliver new services -- especially high-speed data, since
digital-subscriber-line service from competitors has not lived up to
'This is the time to step on the pedal,' Roberts added.