Comcast Corp. (CMCSA - Get Report) posted better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Wednesday, and boosted its dividend by around 10% thanks to slowing customer departures from it video business amid increasing competition from the likes of Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) .
Comcast said earnings for the three months ending in December came in at 64 cents a share, topping the consensus forecast by 2 cents, as adjusted revenues rose to $28.28 billion, well ahead of the Street estimate of $27.55 billion. NBCUniversal revenues rose 7.1% to $9.4 billion, Comcast said, while its high-speed internet revenues jumped 10.1% to $4.4 billion.
"2018 was a successful and pivotal year for Comcast. I'm pleased with the strong operational and financial results that we delivered across the company," said CEO Brian Roberts. "We truly became a global company with our acquisition of Sky, and are excited about its future and the potential of our combined company in 2019 and beyond."
"Comcast's track record of consistent financial performance and our confidence in our outlook for continued, profitable growth is what underpins our announcement of a 10% increase in our dividend in 2019, our 11th consecutive annual increase," Roberts said.
Comcast shares rose 5.5% to $36.89 by the close of trading on Wednesday, a move that erased most of the stock's three month decline and value the Philadelphia, Pa.-based cable group at around $166 billion.
"We're encouraged by management's optimism regarding the Sky acquisition and continue to believe that the company's robust cash flow profile, will provide management the means to deleverage the balance sheet," wrote analysts on Jim Cramer's Action Alerts Plus team. "As for the US business, the quarter was exactly what we've come to expect from Comcast, strong execution leading to consistent results."
"We believe management's decision to focus operations around broadband is continuing to be rewarded with higher margins and providing a greater ability to bundle cheaper, a trend we see continuing in coming years as the cord cutting trend remains," the team added.
Total video customer net losses were 29,000, Comcast said, well under the market's forecast of around 52,000, while so-called total customer relationships increased by 258,000 to 30.3 million.
Comcast will pay an 84 cents-per-share dividend, up 10% from the previous payout, and a quarterly cash dividend of 21 cents per share.