Comcast Corp. costs in buying NBC Universal and other factors have put a damper on its third-quarter earnings. Net profit sank 8.2% to $867 million. But without those costs, operating cash flow would have climbed 8.2%. The stock market seems to be shrugging its shoulders over the news. Midday trading witnessed Comcast stock rising nearly 2.5% on the day to over $20 a share.
Comcast revenue climbed 7% to $9.49 billion -- a bit better than the forecast of $9.36 billion, which analysts were expecting.
All this wasn't from more subscribers during the period -- Comcast added fewer customers than it did in the same period in the third quarter of 2009. Comcast ended the quarter with a total of 48 million overall customers, a gain of 2.5%. Last year it grew 3.4%.
But it did gain 10% from the customers is already had -- growing $129.75 per customer in average monthly revenue. That's thanks to added services such as HD TV, DVR, high-speed Internet and phone services.
Overall, NBC Universal deal costs have amounted to $57 million. During the period, some $21 million was spent on NBC Universal-related transaction costs -- which will give Comcast a majority stake in the big media company, with General Electric owning a smaller minority piece when the deal is completed by year's-end.
Like other local TV businesses, Comcast strongly grew local advertising at its cable operations by an impressive 27% hike in revenue, following steep declines a year ago.
As has been the trend, Comcast continues to lose basic cable subscribers -- now at a net loss of 275,000 compared with 132,000 a year ago. It added 219,000 digital cable customers -- a faster-growing business. It also added 249,000 high-speed Internet customers and 228,000 voice customers. But all these businesses are down from a year ago -- 361,000 (Internet), 375,000 (voice) and 463,000 (digital cable).
A slow-moving economy -- and fewer new home sales -- have affected consumers in buying more communications services that companies like Comcast have to offer.