Comcast Q3 Earnings Top Wall Street’s Tempered Expectations Despite Big Box Office Decline

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Comcast unveiled its third-quarter 2017 financials early Thursday morning, when it reported adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of 52 cents on 21 billion in revenue. Wall Street had forecast EPS of 50 cents on $21.04 billion in revenue, per a Yahoo Finance poll of 26 analysts — so the company technically topped the market’s bottom-line expectations by two pennies per share.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal experienced a 26.4 percent decrease in box office revenue, mostly due to the release of fewer movies than the comparable quarter last year. In Q3 2016, “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Jason Bourne” brought in theatrical revenue. This year, it was pretty much just “Despicable Me 3.” Still, content licensing, consumer products and home entertainment sales helped offset nearly the entirety of the in-theater difference.

NBC’s broadcast and cable networks had trickier comparisons, due to 2016’s Summer Olympics in Rio. Basically, if you include revenue from the Games, NBC & Co. is way down this year. If you exclude it, the networks grew. No surprises there, and NBC is still the No. 1 network among adults 18-49, which draws in big advertising bucks.

At its theme parks, NBCU saw a 7.7 percent revenue growth versus Q3 2016, thanks to the openings of Minion Park and Volcano Bay. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter did not disappoint, either.

At Comcast’s actual cable-providing business — the company’s largest segment by far — internet, video and business revenue helped grow the top-line figure by 5.1 percent. We were braced by Comcast for a quarter of subscriber loss, which actually ended up at a net increase 115,000 customer relationships. Total video customer net losses were 125,000 — minus 134,000 among residential homes, specifically — and the company shed a net of 94,000 voice customers.

Last month, executive vice president of Xfinity Services Matt Strauss, said he expected to see a decline between 100,000 and 150,000 subscribers, pinning the negative news on a number of factors, including a recent barrage of stateside hurricanes.

“I’m very pleased with the Company’s operational and financial results during the quarter,” Brian L. Roberts, chairman and Chief executive officer of Comcast Corporation, said in Thursday’s earnings report. “Adjusted EBITDA increased 5 percent despite the impact of the severe storms that affected our operations this year and the uneven comparison due to the Rio Olympics last year. At NBCUniversal, our momentum continued throughout each business unit, including terrific results at Theme Parks and Film, and strength in affiliate fees, retransmission revenues, and content licensing at our TV businesses. At Cable Communications, we continued to drive growth in total customer relationships, deliver excellent high-speed Internet and business services results and make further progress in our efforts to transform the customer experience. Across Comcast NBCUniversal, we are uniquely positioned with a broad range of growth opportunities that set us up well for the future.”

CMCSA stock closed Wednesday at $36.83 per share, up 33 cents. The U.S. markets re-open this morning at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Comcast executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss the quarter in greater detail.

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