Comcast Sees 3Q Boost, Digital Sub Growth Well Into Double Digits

Comcast Corp. witnessed a big jump in third-quarter profits--much of it from strong subscriber growth and tax gains from purchases and trading of cable systems.

Third-quarter net income more than doubled to $548 million, from $222 million the year before. With tax gains of some $700 million from its deal for systems formerly owned by Adelphia Communications, and some system swaps with Time Warner (which also purchased Adelphia systems), Comcast overall net profit was $1.22 billion.

This was good news for Comcast. Financial analysts had expected 19 cents a share improvement in earnings. Without the tax gains, Comcast earned 26 cents a share.

One bit of bad news: Comcast added just 10,000 basic video subscribers during the quarter. Some analysts expected twice as many. Still, it outperformed in other new technology areas, signing up a record 558,000 digital video subscribers. All this pushed its digital penetration to more than 50% of all its cable subscribers.



Comcast also added 483,000 digital-phone subscribers, more than making up for its loss of 102,000 traditional phone-service customers during the period. Another uptick: Comcast also added 536,000 high-speed Internet subscribers.

Comcast is one of a number of cable companies that have seen its stock grow sharply over the past few months. The reasons are basically the same: Strong business growth from the so-called triple play of services: video, high-speed Internet and phone services.

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