NBCU Reports Higher Fourth Quarter Earnings

Broadcast and cable television were good businesses at NBCUniversal, with profits rising 4.6% to $2.12 billion in the fourth quarter.

Revenue rose 7.1% to $9.395 billion, according to parent company Comcast, which reported earnings Wednesday morning.

Tax law changes a year ago left Comcast’s net income lower. Excluding the effects of taxes, Comcast earnings per share were up on higher revenue. Video subscribers were down.

Comcast also raised its quarterly dividend by 10% to 21 cents a share.

At NBCU, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for NBCU’s cable network rose 4.3% to $1.039 billion. Revenue rose 8.9% to $2.892 billion.

Distribution revenue increase 10.3%, while ad revenue was flat, reflecting audience declines, the company said.

Broadcast television EBITDA rose 109.3% to $412 million. Revenues rose 3.7% to $3.099 billion.

Programming and production costs were down, and distribution revenue jumped 18.5% due to higher retransmission fees. Ad revenue increased 2.1% become of higher rates and local political spending.

Parent company Comcast reported net income of $2.511 billion, or 55 cents a share for the quarter, compared to $14.999 billion, or $3.17 a share, a year a ago. Excluding benefits from last year’s tax cuts, earnings rose to $36.2 billion to 64 cents.per share.

Revenue rose 26% to $27.8 billion from $22.075 billion.

The results exceeded Wall Street analysts' expectations.

At Comcast Cable, earnings rose 7.3% to $5.779 billion as revenue grew 5.2% to $14.128 billion.

Revenue from video fell $1.6% to $5.577 billion, while high-speed internet revenue rose 10.1% to $4.4 billion. Advertising revenue rose 27.7% to $863 million.

In the quarter total video customers fell to 21.986 million from 22.357 a year ago.

Programming costs increase 2.9%, the company said.

“2018 was a successful and pivotal year for Comcast. I’m pleased with the strong operational and financial results that we delivered across the company," said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. "Highlighting a few of our accomplishments during the past year, Comcast Cable’s customer relationship growth accelerated, driven by our 13th consecutive year of over 1 million broadband net additions.” 

"NBCUniversal had a great year, fueled by double-digit growth in our TV businesses, reflecting our terrific broadcasts of big events like the NFL’s Super Bowl LII, the 2018 Olympics, and the FIFA World Cup, and overall robust demand for our leading sports, news and entertainment content,” Roberts added. “We truly became a global company with our acquisition of Sky, and are excited about its future and the potential of our combined company in 2019 and beyond.”

Sky had pro forma earnings of $765 million, up 12.4%, as revenues rose 2.4% to $5.021 billion.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.