Comcast Q4 profit more than doubles

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 3% to $9.1 billion

NEW YORK -- Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts is set to spend Thursday in Washington in front of House and Senate committees touting the benefits of the proposed deal that would see the cable giant take a 51% stake in NBC Universal.

That deal was not mentioned much Wednesday when the largest U.S. cable operator reported a fourth-quarter profit that more than doubled and exceeded Wall Street expectations.

For full-year 2009, Comcast profit increased to $3.6 billion from $2.5 billion in 2008 on a 4% revenue gain to $35.8 billion.

Last month, NBC Universal reported profit declines for its fourth quarter and full year. During its earnings conference call, Comcast management declined to comment on the financial trends at NBC Uni.

Roberts lauded Comcast's "healthy operating and financial results for 2009" despite "a difficult economic environment affecting the consumer and our advertising business, as well as intensified competition."

In another general comment, Roberts added that Comcast is "excited about the opportunity to strengthen our position in content through the announced NBC Universal transaction and to bring those assets together with our already strong position in cable and broadband distribution."

And he cited opportunities for "cross-platform integration and product innovation that will help us expand the entertainment options we offer our customers."

Otherwise, the focus was squarely on financial and subscriber trends. Comcast's fourth-quarter profit of $955 million compared to $412 million in the year-ago period, which included an impairment charge. Revenue rose 3% to $9.1 billion.

In the latest quarter, Comcast grew its digital cable, broadband and telephony customer base. It lost 199,000 video subscribers to end 2009 with a total of 23.6 million, down 2.6%.

NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker will join Roberts for the congressional testimony.
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