Earnings: Comcast Reports 4Q05 Profits Down 69 Percent; Promises Faster Pace On Digital Voice


Comcast reported a 69-percent drop in 4Q05 profit to $133 million or 6 cents per share compared to $423 million or 19 cents per share the previous year. Revenues of $5.72 billion slightly exceeded estimates of $5.7 billion but Thomson First Call expected 15 cents a share profit on that revenue.
While some public companies steer away from guidance, Comcast heads to it like a moth to flame. For instance, the company is projecting a 35-percent increase in revenue generating units for 2006, up at least 3.5 million over 2005 — including 1 million new Digital Voice customers. Analysts have been waiting for Comcast to intensify phone efforts; this past year, the company added only 202,000 Digital Voice subs for a total of 1.1 million voice customers despite rolling the service out in another 25 markets (including some of its biggest) and marketing to 16 million homes.
But, as Marketwatch reports, Comcast COO Steve Burke insisted during the earnings call that Comcast still was in a better position than its telecom and satellite competition because of its ability to market the voice/videoi/HSD bundle to 25 million homes. (That number includes the circuit-switch business inherited from AT&T.)

Comcast continues to invest in programming — or, in some case, to try to invedst. Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts confirmed that Comcast tried to get an NFL package for OLN; the league deciced to use the package on its network instead. “When we looked at NFL football or PGA golf or any other activities like NHL hockey and other things that haven’t been reported publicly, our goal is the same. We are trying to take our brands and extend the number of homes.”
Some numbers:

— Revenues from pay per view increased 16.4 percent from 2004.

— Comcast digital customers watched 1.4 billion
programs on demand in 2005; the viewing rate for December was up to 30 programs with an averaging viewing time of 30 minutes.

— Comcast installed 1.5 million advanced set-top boxes with DVR and/or HD last year; as of Dec. 31, one fourth of Comcast’s digital customers had one ore more advanced set-tops — nearly double the 13.1 percent in place in 2004.

— As of Dec. 31, 2005, Comcast had 8.5 million HSD subs for 20.7 percent penetration.

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