reported higher adjusted earnings and revenue in the fourth quarter, saying its integration of AT&T Broadband is on track and that it expects to end 2003 with $25 billion to $26 billion in debt.
The shares were recently up 25 cents, or about 1%, to $26.75 on the Instinet premarket session. The gain reflected a separately released estimate for 2003, in which the nation's biggest cable company predicted full-year cable EBITDA of $6.2 billion and $6.3 billion, and pro forma cable revenue growth in the high single digits.
On a historical and consolidated basis that treats acquisitions when they happened, Comcast earned $1.19 billion, or 75 cents a share, before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in the latest quarter, up 85.2% from $642 million, or 68 cents a share, last year, mainly because of the broadband acquisition. On the same basis, fourth-quarter revenue rose 53% to $4.374 billion.
The company's said its "operating income" was $329 million, or 21 cents a share, in the latest quarter, compared with a loss of $334 million, or 35 cents a share, a year ago, while the bottom-line loss was $51 million, or 3 cents a share, in the latest quarter, compared with $321 million, or 34 cents a share, a year ago.
Adjusted to include the November 2002 broadband purchase and certain other subscriber acquisitions as if they were completed Jan. 1, Comcast reported cable revenue of $4.15 billion, up 11% from $3.74 billion a year ago, and reported cable earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $1.05 billion, up 8.9% from $962 million a year ago.
In a statement, the company said of AT&T Broadband that a "significant amount of integration planning and budgeting is already yielding substantial results. While we've been operating the company for only three months, we're extremely encouraged by the performance of our newly acquired cable systems."