We've Got Hollywood Covered

Comcast Q4 Revenue Rises as NBCUniversal Broadcast, Theme Parks Grow Sales

Company increases stock repurchase program and dividend despite NBCU’s Filmed Entertainment segment dropping double digits

Comcast Corporation released its fourth quarter 2014 financials on Tuesday morning before the U.S. stock markets opened, reporting revenue of $17.732 billion, just topping analyst estimates by that metric. Comcast’s $1.925 billion in net income is up from the comparable three-month period last year, when the company posted $1.913 billion.

Earnings per share (EPS) were $0.74, or $0.77 apiece, excluding transaction-related costs and income tax adjustments. The latter number is just below or dead on estimates.

Wall Street forecast consensus EPS of $0.78 on $17.70 billion in revenue, per Yahoo Finance. Zacks saw earnings coming in a penny lower per share.

Q4 revenue for Comcast’s Cable Communications increased as customers reached 27 million. High-speed Internet monies grew alongside business services and ad sales.

For NBCUniversal — the media giant’s entertainment arm — higher sales were seen at Theme Parks and on Broadcast Television, while Filmed Entertainment couldn’t compete with last year’s “Despicable Me 2” numbers, falling 10.6 percent from 2013’s comparable 90-day period.

Revenue for Filmed Entertainment’s full fiscal year fell 8.2 percent — NBCU’s only posted sales decline by either measurement period. That said, it was the still the most profitable result in Universal Pictures’ history.

Broadcaster NBC boasted better ad sales and higher retransmission consent fees for the current reported quarter.

For the company’s Theme Parks segment, higher guest attendance and per capita spending came at Orlando’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. Halloween Horror Nights at both the Orlando and Hollywood parks chipped in too.

Brian L. Roberts (pictured above), chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, said, “Cable’s results, driven by High-Speed Internet and Business Services, demonstrate our focus on driving profitable growth and technology innovations, including our transformative X1 platform. This is bearing fruit in our operating performance, as we added 358,000 customer relationships, while video subscriber trends were the best in seven years and in broadband we added over one million subscribers for the ninth year in a row.”

“NBCUniversal also had a standout performance in 2014, with 18 percent growth in operating cash flow, driven by a successful Sochi Olympics, continued momentum at NBC Broadcast, the successful opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley in Orlando, and strong box office performance from Universal Pictures,” he continued. “We enter 2015 with great momentum and significant opportunities ahead, and we look forward to receiving regulatory approval for the Time Warner Cable merger. Underscoring our confidence in the continued success of our company, we are increasing our dividend to $1.00 per share on an annualized basis, marking the seventh consecutive annual increase, and plan to repurchase at least $4.25 billion of our stock this year.”

Comcast’s Board increased that stock repurchase program authorization to $10.0 billion.

The $1.00 per share dividend is an 11 percent increase. Accordingly, the Board declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 a share on the company’s common stock on Tuesday, payable on April 22.

For the fourth quarter last year, the company posted earnings of $0.66 a share, below the consensus estimate for earnings of $0.68 a share, per Reuters. Revenue totaled $16.93 billion at the time, above analysts’ estimates of $16.63 billion.

In 2014’s third quarter, Comcast’s earnings of $0.73 beat estimates of $0.71. Revenue totaled $16.79 billion, below estimates of $16.83 billion.

Comcast Corp stock (CMCSA) closed Monday at $58.21 per share, down $0.29 or 0.50 percent.

Comcast’s investors call is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. ET on Monday, at which point this post will be updated with any pertinent information.