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Bear Stearns Media Con: Comcast Braces For A Downturn, But No Pullback In Investments

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During a Q&A session at the Bear Stearns Media Conference, Michael Angelakis, Comcast’s (NSDQ: CMCSA) CFO briefly touched on this morning’s news about Comcast’s interactive ad targeting joint venture, Project Canoe and how it relates to the company’s capital expenditures. The project — a partnership among Comcast, *Time Warner Cable*, *Cablevision*, *Charter Communications*, Cox Communications, and Bright House Networks — entails forming a separate company to build a national service that can sell targeted ads across all six cable systems. The cable companies are getting it off the ground with a collective $150 million. Comcast will spend about between $50-$70 million on Project Canoe. Including other digital initiatives, the company plans to spend about 5-10 percent of its discretionary budget.

Broadband growth plans: Given that broadband penetration is currently around 75 percent of homes with a PC, Angelakis was asked how Comcast plans to grow that business. Comcast is in “the high 20s in terms of penetration, while some of our peers are higher than us. We think the trajectory will level off a bit.” Not that Comcast plans to wait around for penetration to stabilize among its competitors; the company has a premium service that offers wider bandwidth that it is just starting to market. In one unspecified market where Comcast has started pushing it premium broadband service, the company has garnered 10 percent penetration so far.

Combating a downturn: “We were one of the first companies to come out and say that we see some softness in the economy.” In particular, Comcast has sensing the effects of a weakening advertising and housing markets over the past few months. Angelakis offered a tepid view of how Comcast will fare amid a worsening economy: “I think our company will do well – not as well as we hoped, but we will ride out this downturn fine.”