Comcast CFO upbeat during 'scary' times

Cites resilient business despite weak economy

NEW YORK -- Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis feels good about his company's position amid a weak U.S. economy and tumultuous credit markets, even though markets look "scary."

And he hints at possible network acquisitions, saying Comcast has looked at recent cable channels auctions, but couldn't get comfortable with the required price tags to seal a deal.

"We have a business model that has real resiliency," he said at the annual Goldman Sachs Communacopia media and entertainment conference Wednesday morning. "We have a defensive, resilient business that can take some body blows (from a weak economy). We have a pretty rock-solid business."

The recent credit and other market mayhem is on his radar as Comcast is "very concerned about ripple effects" in consumer markets, he said. "It’s more than a scary world out there."

But the company's resilient business, free cash flow, financial hedges and insurance make management comfortable, he said.

At the start of the conference, Goldman analyst Mark Wienkes had suggested that cable and satellite TV operators may have to some degree lost the recession-resistance they had often been lauded for in the past. But he also highlighted how key a role television in its various forms plays in the media and entertainment industry today.

"Television is now more important for media companies than ever, he said, citing record viewership for the Beijing Olympics and political conventions in the U.S. "Branded content is a good place" to seek shelter from a tough economy, Wienkes said.

Asked about possible content acquisitions, Comcast's Angelakis said: "We like content." But he wouldn't become more specific beyond saying: "We will look at everything."

Quizzed about his take on the old debate of the relative power and importance of content and distribution, he said: "I don't really look at it as either/or. We're really looking at cross-platform utilization of content."