Earnings Preview: Comcast to report 1Q earnings

Comcast to report 1st-quarter earnings after taking full control of NBCUniversal from GE

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Comcast Corp., the country's largest cable company, reports its first-quarter earnings before the stock market opens on Wednesdsay. It's the company's first report after buying complete ownership of NBCUniversal.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Comcast's shares hit an all-time high $42.61 a month ago, and the shares are still close to that level. They've doubled in value in a year and a half, as it's become clear that its cable operations are doing better than its peers in the face of competition from satellite and phone companies, and that NBCUniversal is doing well under Comcast's control.

Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves expects Comcast to report the loss of 30,000 cable TV subscribers and 439,000 broadband subscribers — figures very similar to results in the same quarter last year. Comcast has proven that it's better than other cable companies at keeping TV subscribers and recruiting broadband subscribers.

Analysts will also be watching overall advertising trends for NBCUniversal's pay TV and broadcast networks, which make up about 40 percent of Comcast's overall revenue and about a fifth of its profits. As of March, Comcast has owned all of NBCUniversal. It bought the 49 percent it didn't own from General Electric for $16.7 billion. It bought it initial stake in 2011 and was planning to buy the rest over time, but announced in January that it was buying out GE years ahead of schedule.

WHY IT MATTERS: Comcast faces competitors in all its businesses, including companies that offer video over the Internet, such as Netflix. Its earnings results provide a peek into sentiment among consumers and advertisers.

Its TV services are available to nearly half of all homes in the U.S., and 22 million of them get service. Comcast is also the nation's largest home Internet provider, with 19 million customers.

WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts polled by FactSet expect the company to earn 50 cents per share on revenue of $15.4 billion.

LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: Comcast earned $1.22 billion, or 45 cents per share, on revenue of $14.9 billion.

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