NBCUniversal Fourth-Quarter Results Mixed as Comcast Reports Gains

On visits from his corporate superiors at Comcast
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"I dress the place up to look like a movie studio. I bring all the Winnebagos to the front; I have people pushing sets around, like one of those old Cecil B. DeMille movies. So they come for two days every two, three months, and we look like we're a bustling metropolis, and then we go back to being a regular old business."

The cable giant also raised its dividend by 44 percent and unveiled a new stock buyback program.


Cable giant Comcast on Wednesday reported higher fourth-quarter financials that exceeded expectations, but results at entertainment arm NBCUniversal declined.

Comcast also boosted its dividend by 44 percent and authorized a new $6.5 billion stock buyback program - measures that shareholders are expected to cheer.

Comcast's quarterly earnings of $1.29 billion were 26.4 percent higher than in the year-ago period.

Revenue jumped 54.7 percent to $15.0 billion. Comcast, led by chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, had acquired a 51 percent stake in NBCUniversal in Jan. 2011. The entertainment company is now led by CEO Steve Burke.

At Comcast's cable systems unit, video subscriber losses of 17,000 were much less pronounced than in the year-ago period when the firm lost 135,000 video customers.

At NBCUniversal, revenue rose 0.8 percent to $5.74 billion. Operating cash flow, a measure of profitability, fell 6.8 percent to $1.05 billion though. The figures include financials for the Olympics in 2010 and acquisition-related accounting revisions and costs in 2011.

Filmed entertainment unit revenue declined 1.8 percent to $1.3 billion amid weaker home entertainment sales. But film division operating cash flow dropped 47.6 percent to $91 million.

Broadcast TV revenue and operating cash flow fell amid soft ratings, weaker local political advertising revenue and a shorter quarter than last year.

Cable networks once again reported financial gains as revenue rose 5.3 percent to $2.2 billion driven by a 10.4 percent gain in affiliate fees and a 2 percent ad improvement.