Comcast reported a 26% increase in Q4 2013 after adding 43,000 TV subscribers for the first time in more than six years. In addition, Comcast added about 379,000 Internet customers and 227,000 phone-service users. Net income rose to $1.91 billion, or 72 cents a share, in the quarter. Comcast also increased its dividend by 15% to 90 cents a year and authorized an additional $7.5 billion in share repurchases, with $3 billion planned in 2014.
Q4 sales gained 6.2% to $16.9 billion. Analysts had predicted $16.6 billion on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Its net income climbed from $1.52 billion, or 56 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.
NBCUniversal scored a 7.5% increase in sales to $6.46 billion. NBC led those gains, up some 12% to $2.23 billion on improved ratings.
Said CEO Brian Roberts “I am very pleased to report strong results for the 4th quarter and the full year 2013. Our optimism and confidence in the future is demonstrated by our decision to increase our dividend 15% and our plan to repurchase $3 billion of our stock during 2014. Our results highlight the momentum we have achieved and how we are benefitting from scale, our investment in innovative products, and from our focus on operational excellence. Cable’s operating metrics improved across video, high-speed Internet and voice for both the 4th quarter and full year, with a return to video subscriber growth in the 4th quarter. NBCUniversal had an outstanding year, with growth in Broadcast, Cable, Film and Parks. As we begin 2014, we remain excited about our businesses and intend to continue to prudently invest to enhance our strategic differentiation and to drive growth.”
In the quarter, revenue from the Cable Networks segment increased 5.3% to $2.3 billion compared to the fourth quarter of 2012, reflecting a 7.8% increase in distribution revenue and a 4.3% increase in ad revenue, partially offset by a 4.6% decline in content licensing and other revenue. Operating cash flow increased 3.8% to $929 million compared to $895 million in Q4 2012, reflecting higher revenue, partially offset by increased programming and production costs from continued investment in original programming and higher sports programming costs, as well as higher advertising, marketing and promotion expenses to support the launch of new shows and events, said the company.
For the year, revenue from the Cable Networks segment increased 5.4% to $9.2 billion compared to $8.7 billion in 2012, reflecting a 6.5% increase in distribution revenue and a 4.3% increase in ad revenue.
In the quarter, revenue from the Broadcast Television segment increased 11.5% to $2.2 billion compared to $2.0 billion in Q4 2012, driven by an 8.3% increase in ad revenue due to strong primetime ratings at the NBC broadcast network, as well as higher retrans fees and an increase in content licensing revenue.
For the year, revenue from the Broadcast Television segment decreased 13.2% to $7.1 billion compared to $8.2 billion in 2012. Excluding $259 million of revenue generated by the Super Bowl in Q1 2012 and $1.2 billion of revenue generated by the Olympics in Q3 2012, revenue increased 5.4%, reflecting higher advertising and retransmission fees
Comcast also is near a deal to buy cable systems in New York City, New England and North Carolina from Charter if it succeeds in its takeover bid for Time Warner Cable. That deal would give Comcast an additional 3 million customers in those markets and could be valued at about $16 billion.