Peacock Plumage: NBC 4Q Profits Soar 38%

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Looking even better for Comcast -- as the company will close on its NBC Universal deal at the end of the month -- NBC reported its best quarterly profit results in six years. 

NBC witnessed a big 38% jump in fourth-quarter 2010 to $830 million in profits versus fourth-quarter 2009. Quarterly revenue moved up 12% to $4.8 billion.

The main credit for NBC success is no secret: its cable networks. Net revenue gained 15% to $1.5 billion with net profit 16% higher to $740 million. General Electric, still the owner of NBC Universal, noted that Bravo and Oxygen were key players in this growth.

USA Network and Syfy also contributed their usual strong results, although GE CFO Keith Sherin said both those channels have been facing some ratings pressure.

As for profits at NBC's core broadcasting business, GE was not very specific -- only saying it was "positive." Still, revenues for its broadcast properties improved 11% to $1.8 billion. NBC witnessed advertising strength from its news programming and NFL ratings, as well as local political TV advertising dollars.

Universal film and theme parks witnessed a 9% gain in revenue, as operating profit climb of 80%. There was a record year as attendance and double-digit percentage increases at the theme parks, due to some new attractions, including "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" and King Kong experience.

Another ray of hope in the troubled home entertainment market for Universal Pictures -- its DVD sales improved 15% over a year ago.

NBC's end-of-year results made up for its rough start at the beginning of 2010, when profits declined almost 50% in the first quarter. For the full-year 2010, NBC Universal's profit was about flat at $2.26 billion; revenue for the full year climbed 9% to $16.9 billion.

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