Cable operator Comcast (CMCSA - Get Report) tips the scales as the largest firm in the cable industry. As a utility, geographic footprint means everything -- that's why a network that spans 53 million households is such a powerful asset.
The joint venture deal to purchase half of NBC Universal is another; it gives Comcast a massive content vault and significant broadcast assets, two things that cable companies are stumbling over themselves to access as rival firms start offering streaming content services.The cable business is changing dramatically right now. Today, Comcast's network can provide consumers with everything from traditional television service to phone and high-speed Internet, allowing the firm to make both a convenience and value argument for houses to switch to its triple-play offering. On the other hand, Comcast isn't alone in its abilities - the firm now faces increased competition from the likes of Verizon's (VZ) and AT&T (T), companies that boast long-reaching networks of their own. From a sales standpoint, Verizon's cutting-edge FiOS network poses the biggest challenge for Comcast in the long-term. But shorter-term, the insanely high cost of implementing that network evens the playing field a bit. Last week, Comcast announced a 44.4% increase to its dividend payout, making it a quarterly 16 cents per share. That gives Comcast a 2.18% yield and makes the firm one of the biggest dividend hikes of the week on a percentage basis. Comcast, one of Maverick Capital's top holdings, shows up on a list of 10 Stocks of Top-Performing Funds in 2012. Follow @stockpickr