Comcast disclosed the information on NBC as part of its third-quarter earnings that showed revenues jumped 15.4 percent to $16.5 billion partly because of NBC's Olympics-related revenue.
Net income more than doubled to $2.1 billion from the year-ago $908 million. Most of this year's gain was attributed to proceeds from the sale of Comcast's ownership stake in the A&E Television Networks L.L.C. to the Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., and the sale of wireless spectrum to Verizon Wireless.
While all eyes seem to be on NBC, Comcast's cable division lost 117,000 TV customers in the quarter, though it was an improvement from the 165,000 losses in the year-ago period and the eighth consecutive quarter of improving TV customer metrics. The company added 287,000 high-speed Internet customers and 123,000 phone customers.
There is some expectation on Wall Street that Comcast could add cable-TV subscribers for the first time in years in the fourth quarter. Comcast executives did not commit but also did not seem to dampen expectations.
Michael Angelakis, the chief financial officer and vice chairman of the company, said Comcast had about $41 billion in debt and $11 billion in cash. About $6 billion of the cash was part of NBCUniversal, which Comcast owns with General Electric. Comcast eventually could use the $6 billion to purchase GE's 49 percent in NBCUniversal and boost its ownership to 100 percent.
Wall Street reacted positively and for a brief period on Friday morning Comcast was valued slightly above $100 billion in its stock-market capitalization. The cable company's shares, up 78 cents to $37.14 during the lunch hour, have gained about 75 percent since late November 2011.
Fears of how Netflix and other over-the-top Internet entertainment providers could wreck Comcast's subscription-TV business have eased in the last year. Investors also have applauded Comcast's cash dividend and reacted favorably to the cable giant's decision to form a business partnership with Verizon Wireless instead of acquiring Sprint or another wireless company.
Contact Bob Fernandez at 215-854-5897 or firstname.lastname@example.org.