Shares of Comcast Corp. gained 3% in pre-market trading on Thursday after the company easily beat expectations with its fourth-quarter results and predicted that it could start buying shares again by the end of the year. The company reported net income of $ 3.38 billion, or 73 cents a share, compared to $ 3.16 billion, or 68 cents a share, a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, Comcast CMCSA, -3.33% earned 56 cents a share, down from 79 cents a share reported a year earlier, but above the FactSet consensus, which called for 48 cents a share.
Comcast saw fourth-quarter revenue drop to $ 27.71 billion from $ 28.4 billion, while analysts expected $ 26.79 billion. The cable business generated $ 15.71 billion in revenue, up from $ 14.77 billion the previous year. Analysts were modeling $ 15.37 billion. Comcast posted an increase in total customer relationships for the cable business by 455,000, which the company said was its best fourth-quarter result on record. The number of high-speed Internet customers increased by 538,000, another fourth-quarter record for Comcast. Comcast’s NBCUniversal segment posted revenue of $ 7.5 billion, down from $ 9.15 billion, while analysts expected $ 7.19 billion. The unit was hit by the theme park business, which saw revenue decline to $ 579 million from $ 1.56 billion, although Chief Executive Brian Roberts said in the earnings release that Comcast “reached the point of balance “at its Orlando and Osaka theme parks. The company revealed that its Peacock service has had 33 million subscriptions in the US to date. That’s up from the nearly 22 million subscriptions Peacock reported in its last quarterly release in late October. Revenue from Comcast’s Sky pay television business increased to $ 5.21 billion from $ 5.04 billion. Analysts expected $ 4.97 billion. The unit “returned to customer growth in its three markets,” Roberts said in the statement. The company increased its dividend by 8 cents a share, or 9% year-over-year, to $ 1.00 per share on an annualized basis for 2021. “Also, now we hope that we will be in a position to start buying shares again in the second half of this year, ”said Roberts. Comcast shares have gained 11.5% in the past three months, as the S&P 500 SPX, -2.57% has risen 10.6%.