Comcast beats earnings expectations as NBCUniversals recovery takes shape

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Cable giant Comcast continued benefit from rising demand for high-speed internet as customers work from home during the pandemic, helping it beat second-quarter earnings expectations.

The company added that entertainment division NBCUniversal, which includes Hollywood movie studio Universal Pictures, streaming service Peacock and Universal Studios theme parks, showed signs of a recovery after the pandemic squeezed those businesses.

Comcast posted quarterly net income of $3.74 billion, or 80 cents a share, up 25 percent from a year earlier. Adjusted EPS totalled 84 cents as revenue rose 20.4 percent to $28.55 billion. Analysts were looking for EPS of 66 cents on revenue of $27.16 billion.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts attributed the growth to the fact that the firm gained gained 354,000 broadband customers, which amounted to the strongest second quarter on record.

NBCU CEO Jeff Shell chimed in on Thursday’s earnings call noting that his division has picked up steam, thanks to a rebound in the theme parks and movie business, as well as growth at Peacock.

He said steady Peacock notched 54 million sign-ups in the second quarter, thanks in part to the Tokyo Olympics, which kicked off on July 23.

The uptick in users comes as Olympics ratings have been on the weaker side with the opening ceremony drawing nearly 17 million, the smallest US TV audience for the event in the past 33 years, according to Nielsen.

Referring to the lack of spectators and year-long delay from 2020, Shell said that “with all this bad luck” the company is still going to be profitable in the Olympics. He acknowledged that the traditional TV ratings were “probably less than we expected.”

Elsewhere, theme park revenue amounted to $1.1 billion during the quarter versus just $136 million a year ago, when stay-at-home orders all-but ground the business to a halt.

Meanwhile, blockbusters like “F9” and animated flick “Boss Baby 2” bolstered NBC’s movie business, which had been hammered by COVID-related production delays and theater closures. Revenue rose 8.4 percent to $2.22 billion.

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