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Summary:

Slower subscriber growth, worries about competition from phone companies and a management crazy enough to make a bold move — all this has Wall Street worried about Comcast (CMCSA), the Philadelphia-based broadband and cable provider. The Nervous Nellies of Manhattan’s nether regions have pushed the stock […]

rockybeatup.jpegSlower subscriber growth, worries about competition from phone companies and a management crazy enough to make a bold move — all this has Wall Street worried about Comcast (CMCSA), the Philadelphia-based broadband and cable provider.

The Nervous Nellies of Manhattan’s nether regions have pushed the stock down almost 30 percent so far this year. Of course, these very same worrywarts were sweating about Verizon’s (VZ) bold bet on fiber to the home technologies.

The divergent fortunes of Verizon and Comcast are very clearly reflected in this chart.

comcastverizon.gif

Verizon has done a better job of winning the hearts and minds of Wall Street, and that is why Comcast stock is moving south, while Verizon stock keeps moving up. Never mind the fact that Comcast has a much bigger footprint compared to say, Verizon. That said, one can’t deny that Comcast has challenges, and Verizon FiOS is not to be taken lightly. Here are some of the issues facing Comcast.

* More HD channels to compete with satellite broadcasters.
* Show that it can offer even higher-speed broadband connections, not just talk about it.
* Make its web services strategy pay off.
* Overcome the “managed” traffic scandal.
* Better Customer Service. Again, Better Customer Service.

Even with those issues, Comcast can put its rivals on the defensive by making a few aggressive moves.

* Get more people signed up to its phone service, and if that means discounts. It is a move that hits at the heart of phone companies’ core money machine: voice.
* Get serious about wireless — both cellular and WiFi. Connections everywhere will help the company get sticky with its customers.
* Boost speeds to 20 megabits and lower prices.
* Offer $15 a month broadband plan for a basic, 3-megabits-per-second broadband connection. This will take pricing power away from their phone company rivals.
* Bring to market a very compelling online video offering.
* CEO Brian Roberts should make a public pledge for better customer service, and start with making TiVo-powered Comcast DVRs available everywhere, especially in downtown San Francisco. ;-)

Ignore Wall Street is the final thing I wanted to say — but it looks like management knows that all too well.

“Our job is to keep our heads down and continue to put good operating results on the board,” said Steve Burke, chief operating officer of Comcast, in an interview (with the Wall Street Journal). “If we continue to do that the stock will take care of itself.”

  1. Steve Burke seems to understand what is needed to create enduring success–consistent operating results. If more CEOs and COOs worried more about creating a framework for lasting results than leveraging a balance sheet for maximum personal benefit Wall Street would ultimately see more of what it wants.

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  2. [...] worry warts were sweating about Verizon’s (VZ) bold bet on fiber to the home technologies. (from GigaOm) Other duopoly members should take note: there but for the lack of doing anything good for your [...]

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  3. Well, here’s why I hate Comcast: We had Comcast cable modem service for a couple of years. Over time, it went down more and more often, first once a month, then once a week, then once a day, then several times per day. When it last died it was out for 4 days straight. I called Comcast and told them that it was really impacting my ability to work at home in the evening. The rep told me that if I wanted to work at home at night, then I should pay the (double-cost) business plan and then he’d be able to tell me when the service might get fixed.

    I called AT&T the next day, got DSL hooked up the day after that, and it has gone out for a total of 10 minutes in the last 3 years. And it costs 1/4 of the cable cost.

    Comcast is horrible, and hopefully the “competition” (ha ha) will kill these clowns off.

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    1. It is clearly stated in the Comcast terms of service agreement that Comcast high speed internet service is not to be used for home based businesses.More people really need to read more about what they are getting themselves into.

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  4. Good point ron,

    i think it is that specific thing comcast has to work on – improving customer service and making sure that the uptime is better than the rest. this kind of moronic response as the one you got isn’t going to cut it.

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  5. I’m sure that these clowns are still recovering from their abortive attempt at acquiring Disney in 2004 when they should have been focusing on integrating their existing acquisitions like TechTV. Can you imagine if their Disney bid had succeeded? Good gravy.

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  6. $40/mo is too much to pay for Comcast’s Internet phone service, even if they can guarantee QoS because they own the network. If they lowered the price permanently to $25, I’m sure they’d pick up a lot of people from Vonage who are concerned about Vonage’s business prospects or just want one less bill a month.

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  7. Unfortunately all their pricing are based on the duo-poly that they along with telcos enjoy. I used to have AT&T DSL and switched to comcast for the attractive introductory price. But, now that I said good bye to telcos using VoIP, it is hard to go back, so I am struck paying 50+ for high speed broadband.

    I do have a large HD TV, but my bills were running to 120+ just to have HD. So, I am down to basic cable. If they offerred just basic HD on for around additional $20 it would be interesting for me. But they dont have such interesting way to package their offerings. I guess their current thinking is if you want HD, you should shell 100+ per month.

    With their sub par quality with their analog channels, if they should anything, they should provide better options with digital channels, most of the consumers today have TVs with digital tuners (at least in metro areas).

    As people have already suggested, if their voip offering is at 25/mo surely they’ll get yet another bunch of people.

    One thing scary with one provider is if cable is down everything is down. It happened once and I had so much trouble even getting a trouble ticket because I did not have the account number (thanks to online billing). CSR refused to take the complaint unless I gave the account number. Even though I told him that it is online he wouldn’t budge.

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  8. blog american stock to pieces Thursday, November 8, 2007

    So I can understand the general public not getting how network traffic functions. That explains to me why some pricks with a datafarms can get away with complaining about “filtered internet” then some advocacy groups jump on the Comcast hate bandwagon filing the FCC?

    Give me a break!

    Most of these people complainging are in fact downloading unlicensed files. Also, it should be noted that companys like Comcast had people by the balls a few years ago when the FCC was on a witch hunt for Movie file sharers. I know that people were “warned” to stop their “activity” before they got turned in. Pretty nice of Comcast to not just burn people, and pre-warn them to stop sharing movies.

    This whole fiasco of “filtering” is a decoy for the real concern which is internet content filtering.
    Companys like Comcast have to protect their network nodes by toning down whomever is abusing bandwidth. Remeber Torrent software is not just file upload/downloading. It is software that has millions of IP addresses constantly checking each other for files. Thats alot of requests for layer 3 equipment to deal with.

    So the nextime somebody complains about their Comcast getting filtered ask them why they dont use the newsgroups and IRC for FTP file transfers?
    The answer is because they are to busy grandstanding their supposed technical knowledge of it all.

    Thanks for killing the value of an American stock just to satisfy the current mis-understanding!

    And B.T.W. It is impossible for Comcast to make up the one-time aquisition of Adelphia from last year. If you take that away Comcast still made a profit. Out of all the smart investor articles I read only one mentioned that as a major fact.

    Of course you are only helping Comcast
    They are buying back 6 or 7 billion, so the lower the price the better for them.

    ;)

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  9. [...] got to have a thick skin to be in the broadband service business. If you’re a cable operator, the Wall Street guys are mad at you because subscriber growth has slowed, even if revenue is up. If you’re a telco, folks are either [...]

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  10. Blog’s message about comcast sounds like an employee who is underwater on his stock option, with a hefty reset coming in a couple weeks!

    Comcast problems are legendary and investors seem to be waking up to the issues…
    1) customers are not pleased with the provider
    2) cost structure per sub is high
    3) cable itself as an industry has seen its peak
    4) menu interface is amongst the worst UI in history of cable
    5) Customer service is laughing stock of customer service industry
    6)not a very consumer -centric company see # 1,2,4,5

    they will survive but only until more options arrive and then its,
    arreviderchi comcastic

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