Up quarter for Comcast – and upbeat on NBCU


Cable giant Comcast reported that Q3 revenues were up 7.3% to $8.85 billion and operating cash flow grew 7.6% to $3.33 billion. So business is good and the company is champing at the bit to add NBC Universal to its operations.

“The regulatory reviews are continuing and we believe they’re on track to enable us to close by the end of this year. The integration of NBC Universal is a huge task and I’m delighted that Steve Burke will become the new CEO of NBC Universal upon closing,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told analysts in his quarterly conference call.

“Over the past 11 months Steve has been spending a lot of time planning so we can hit the ground running when the deal closes. I believe we’re in a strong position to deliver a great entertainment experience to consumers and to really drive new value creation for our shareholders,” Roberts said.

Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis also had good things to say about the recent balance sheet work at NBCU, with the sale over the past six months of a total of $9.1 billion in public debt, including the recent $5.1 billion in bond offerings. “This permanent financing for NBCU is now complete and was accomplished with a weighted average cost of debt of approximately 4.5% and an average duration of 13.3 years,” Angelakis noted. “When we close the NBC Universal transaction we expect our consolidated leverage will be approximately two and a half times – and as we have said in the past, we remain comfortable with a debt-to-OCF [operating cash flow] leverage target between two and two and a half times.”

During Q3 Comcast saw stronger revenue and cash flow growth in its programming side, although its current cable networks are considerably smaller than the cable systems operations. Programming revenues gained 8.7% to $383 million and OCF rose 26.3% to $118 million. Comcast attributed the growth to “the impact of a strong advertising market across all networks and ratings strength at E!” In addition to E!, Comcast has investments in Style Network, Golf channel, VERSUS, G4, PBS Kids Sprout, TV One and 11 regional sports networks operated by Comcast Sports Group.

Cable revenues were up 6.9% to $8.4 billion and OCF rose 7.1% to $3.31 billion.