Comcast Third-Quarter Results Beat Earnings Expectations

Getty Images
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts

The cable giant, which recently acquired Sky for $39 billion, shed 106,000 customers in the quarter, fewer than the 153,000 expected.

After signing a $39 billion deal earlier this year to acquire European pay TV group Sky, Comcast Corp. on Thursday reported stronger-than-expected third-quarter financials, which included a loss of 106,000 cable subscribers.

The cable giant beat earnings expectations as it recorded third-quarter earnings of 65 cents per share, up from 52 cents per share in 2017. Revenue came to $22.13 billion, up 5 percent from a year-earlier $21 billion.

Analysts had expected the company to report a profit of 61 cents per share, on revenue of $21.83 billion.

On the cable side, Comcast lost 106,000 cable subscribers during the latest quarter, as the company continues to face cord-cutting pressures in the emerging digital age. That's fewer than the 153,000 that analysts' forecasts predicted and was offset by Comcast adding 363,000 high-speed internet access customers.

"Our focus is to have the best product in the marketplace," Comcast CFO Mike Cavanagh told analysts about his company's broadband offerings during a morning call, as consumers increasingly opt for streaming services and require higher Internet speeds and coverage.

Top Comcast execs during the analyst call focused on the recent acquisition of Sky as investors have expressed recent concern that the cable giant overpaid for the U.K.-based pay TV group.

Comcast was forced into a bidding war for Sky, edging out Disney, which wanted to acquire the pay TV player as part of its buyout of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets. Others worry Comcast should focus more on protecting its core domestic cable business rather than investing in a European expansion.

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch participated in the analyst call, as he argued the European company wanted to grow its business after recently launching its first pay TV service without the need for a satellite TV dish.

"It provides another way to take Sky into new territories," Darroch said. On the content front, Sky will boost the number of original series it commissions to grow international licensing revenues and its production partnerships.

On the financials front, Comcast's NBCUniversal unit saw overall revenue rise 10 percent to $8.62 billion. Cable networks revenue came to $2.88 billion, up 10 percent from a year earlier. The film unit saw revenue go up 3.8 percent to $1.8 billion, while broadcast TV revenue increased 15 percent to $2.45 billion and theme parks revenue fell 1.4 percent to $1.5 billion.