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Comcast Q4 Beats Street: Peacock Hits 31 Million Subs, $1B In Revenue; Stock Up As Company Boosts Dividend

Comcast saw fourth-quarter net income of close to $3.3 billion as revenue passed $31 billion, up, respectively, 7.8% and 2.3%, with the numbers released Thursday beating Wall Street forecasts. Peacock hit some milestones, studio profit surged and theme parks continue strong.

Free cash flow was $1.7 billion vs $1.3 billion.

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The media giant lost video and broadband customers, but added wireless subscribers.

The stock is up 2.4% in pre-market trading as the company boosted its dividend and announced a big $15 billion stock-repurchase program.

Peacock added 3 million subscribers from Q3 to hit 31 million subs – up nearly 50% from the year earlier. Streaming revenue rose 57% year-on-year to pass $1 billion. The streamer lost $825 million, narrowed from $978 million the year earlier. The Kansas City Chiefs’ win over the Miami Dolphins was a record breaker for Peacock earlier this month. The AFC Wild Card game was streamed exclusively on Peacock for most of the U.S.

Also last quarter, Comcast got an initial $8.6 billion check from Disney for its one-third stake in Hulu. It may get more as the two companies and their respective investment bankers hash out a valuation for the asset.

The Media division saw revenue nose up despite a drop in advertising sales. Profit fell on increased sports programming costs and higher programming costs at Peacock.

Domestic advertising revenue fell 6.9% but Comcast said that mostly reflected Telemundo’s broadcast of the FIFA World Cup in the prior year. Excluding that, advertising revenue increased 2.7% as increased ad sales at Peacock offset by lower revenue at media networks. Ongoing soft advertising on linear television has become a big headache for media companies.

Universal was No. 1 in worldwide box office for the full year including three of the top five films: Super Mario Bros. Movie, Oppenheimer and Fast X. Studio Q4 revenue increased, primarily due to higher theatrical including Five Nights at Freddy’sTrolls Band Together, The Exorcist: Believer and Migration.

Studio profit surged 83% to $308 million on revenue of $3.1 billion, up 4.3%.

Content licensing revenue was flat – higher at the film studio but lower at the television studio due to the timing of when content was made available under licensing agreements, including the impacts of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

Theme Parks set another record for adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization).

Comcast said it will boost its dividend by 8 cents to $1.24 per share for 2024.

“We capped off 2023 and the fourth quarter with excellent operational and financial performance,” said CEO Brian Roberts. “For the third consecutive year, we generated the highest revenue, adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EPS in our company’s history. At the same time, we invested in future growth, returned $16 billion to shareholders and maintained a healthy balance sheet.”

Comcast “reported the highest adjusted EBITDA on record at Theme Parks; were the #1 studio in worldwide box office for the first time since 2015; and maintained Peacock’s position as the fastest growing streamer in the U.S. 2024 is already off to a great start – I couldn’t be more proud of how our company came together to deliver a record-breaking NFL Wild Card game on Peacock and the nation’s biggest night on the Internet ever,” Roberts said.

“Our unique and complementary capabilities will enable us to capitalize on the many opportunities ahead, and the Board’s confidence in our future is reflected in today’s announcement that we are increasing our dividend for the 16th consecutive year.”

Execs will break down the numbers on a conference call with analysts at 8:30 a.m. ET.

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