Comcast to shareholders: 'We're off to a good start'

Posted: May 15, 2008

Comcast Corp.'s Brian L. Roberts told shareholders yesterday that "we're off to a good start" and that the company's stock in 2008 has been one of the best performers among big companies.

At the meeting, held at the Spectrum in South Philadelphia, shareholders elected the company's slate of 13 directors to one-year terms and defeated seven shareholder proposals.

One new director is Gerald L. Hassell, 56, an executive with the Bank of New York Mellon Corp.

The defeated shareholder proposals focused on, among other things, executive compensation, universal health-care coverage, corporate governance, and the company's dual-stock ownership. They were opposed by Comcast management.

Roberts, the chairman and chief executive officer who controls 33 percent of the voting power in the company through a special class of shares, faced a number of questions from shareholders and labor activists over the company's actions regarding unions.

In response to a question from shareholder activist Evelyn Y. Davis, Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen said the nation's largest cable company spent about $85 million on outside legal fees in 2007 and an additional $15 million on in-house lawyers.

Comcast is engaged in a number of court battles, including one against the NFL Network over whether the new network should be broadcast on Comcast's popular basic package of channels.

Comcast - along with Roberts - was criticized for a flagging stock price in 2007. In response, Comcast announced in February that it was resuming dividend payments and was accelerating a stock-repurchase plan to boost shareholder returns.

Roberts said the company was diversifying its revenue sources to include phones, high-speed Internet, and commercial services. Forty-three percent of its $31 billion in annual revenue was earned outside its core pay-TV business, he said.

Comcast shares closed at $22.37, up 28 cents.


Contact staff writer Bob Fernandez at 215-854-5897 or bob.fernandez@phillynews.com.

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