Comcast exceeded Wall Street expectations for Q2, reporting earnings of 42 cents per share (excluding special items) and beating the analysts’ consensus by a penny. Cable had a good quarter, but the biggest percentage growth came at NBCUniversal.
NBCU revenues were up 17.1% overall to $5.18 billion and operating cash flow rose 5.2% to slightly over $1 billion.
Broadcast television was a strong performer, although company officials were still careful to note that the turnaround of the NBC Network will not be accomplished quickly. TV revenues were up 18.5% to $1.7 billion, which was attributed to higher ad revenues due to improved pricing and ratings at the network, along with higher content licensing revenue. Operating cash flow for TV rose 8.8% to $190 million.
For NBCU’s cable networks, revenues gained 12.6% to $2.17 billion, including a 10.3 increase in ad revenue. The cable nets produce a lot more cash flow than TV, but operating cash flow gained only 1.1% in Q2 to $846 million.
The much smaller movie and theme park units at NBCU also had an up quarter.
For Comcast in total, revenues were up 9.4% on a pro forma basis (adjusting for the acquisition of NBCU) to $14.33 billion and operating cash flow (pro forma) increased 6.7% to $4.8 billion.
“We’re off to a great start,” NBCU CEO Steve Burke told analysts as he looked back on what’s now just over six months of running the company since Comcast acquired majority ownership. He noted that the TV business outlook is “much rosier” that when the deal took place. Burke said NBC is investing in new programming – pointing to the success of “The Voice” as an example – but cautioned that it will take time to rebuild the network lineup. On the local level, he said the O&O TV stations have been hiring reporters and producers to boost their local news products.
RBR-TVBR observation: Was it masterful timing or just good luck? Either way, it looks like Comcast got in at the bottom for television and has nowhere to go but up. Not to mention that the cable networks – which was what it was really after – are doing really well as well.