Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


May 3, 2012

Comcast's first-quarter results were better than expected on just about everything except its cable-TV subscriber numbers.

That was the conclusion of Craig Moffett and his team of analysts at BernsteinResearch, who expressed it in the note on the company’s earnings they put out Wednesday.

Moffett et al. said in the note that Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA, CMCSK) went into the quarter expecting to add cable-TV subscribers.

"They missed. Fortunately for Comcast shareholders, they beat on everything else."

As I said in my brief summary of Comcast's results earlier today, the company beat analysts' estimates for earnings and revenue, but that was just the beginning.

The Bernstein team noted that Comcast's free cash flow increased 37 percent to $3 billion, trouncing estimates of $1.8 billion; it returned more than $1 billion to shareholders in the quarter via dividends and $750 million in share repurchases; and it added more than twice as many broadband subscribers as AT&T and Verizon combined on a footprint roughly half their combined size.

The surprises in the punch bowl, to borrow an expression from Tick Tock McLaughlin in the movie, "Seabiscuit," were the 37.6 percent margins of NBCUniversal's cable networks, which fell short of consensus estimates of 39.4 percent, and the unit’s broadcast losses of $10 million, which were worse than consensus estimates of $3.7 million.

Despite those, Bernstein still rates Comcast as outperform and has a $36 target price for its stock, which was about $6 below that price on Wednesday afternoon. - Peter Key, Philadelphia Business Journal