Comcast Earnings Down on NBCU Costs

PHILADELPHIA ( TheStreet) -- Comcast ( CMCSA) saw earnings fall during the third quarter, weighed down by transaction costs related to its takeover deal with General Electric's ( GE) NBC Universal.

For the quarter ended September 30, the company saw earnings fall 8.2% to $867 million, or 31 cents per diluted share, compared with earnings of $944 million, or 33 cents per diluted share, in the same period a year ago. Earnings from continuing operations were 34 cents per share, which beat analyst estimates of 30 cents a share.

Revenue rose 7.1% to $5.91 billion from $5.52 billion during the quarter. Revenue from its cable segment increased 6.9% to $9.0 billion from $8.4 billion, attributed to a 55% increase in business services and a 27% increase in advertising revenue, as well as the growing number of subscribers.

A 3.5% decrease in video subscribers was offset by a 13.2% growth in voice customers and a 6.5% increase in high-speed Internet customers. The monthly average revenue per video customer was up 10.4% to $129.75 in the third quarter.

"Our results mark the third consecutive quarter of accelerating growth in revenue and operating cash flow, driven by overall customer growth, a robust advertising market and continued strength in business services," chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said.

The company's programming segment revenue increased 8.7%, driven by a strong advertising market across its networks and strong ratings at E!.

Warnings were hampered by $27 million in transaction costs related to the deal with NBC Universal. In December 2009, General Electric announced a joint venture agreement with Comcast. Through the deal Comcast will own 51% of NBCU and 49% would be owned by GE, but managed by Comcast.

For the nine months ended September 30, earnings remained relatively flat, coming in at $2.62 billion, or 93 cents per share, compared with earnings of $2.68 billion, or 93 cents, in the same period a year ago. Profits were weighed down by $57 million in costs related to the NBC Universal deal.

Revenue rose 5.8% to $17.34 billion from $16.38 billion, driven by gains in its cable and programming segments. Cable revenue increased 5.2% to $26.6 billion compared to $25.3 billion while its programming segment revenue was up 11.3% to $1.3 billion.

Management believes that "focus on consistently improving the customer experience and on driving profitable growth will further strengthen our competitive position and build long-term value for our shareholders," Roberts said.

During the third quarter, Comcast repurchased 17.5 million of its common shares for $300 million and paid cash dividends totaling $265 million.

--Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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