Earnings Preview: Comcast 3Q seen up on Olympics

October 24, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Comcast Corp., owner of the NBCUniversal media company, reports its third-quarter earnings results before the market opens Friday, and subscriber numbers are in focus for the nation's leading pay TV signal provider.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Some analysts expect that the cable company added broadband Internet and voice customers but lost lucrative video subscribers.

That's the prediction of Nomura's Mike McCormack, who predicts that Comcast lost 108,000 video subscribers, gained 281,000 broadband Internet customers and added 132,000 voice customers.

According to McCormack's estimates, Comcast made $73.80 per month from video customers, $44.80 per month from broadband customers, and $39.40 a month from voice customers.

The quarter has the added wrinkle of the London Olympics, which was telecast on NBCUniversal channels and websites this year. The Games, which ran from July 27 to Aug. 12, were a hit with viewers and advertisers. NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke has said that the Games will break-even or result in a small profit. The company had previously forecast a loss of $200 million.

Analysts will also be watching overall advertising trends for NBCUniversal's pay TV and broadcast networks, which make up about 40 percent of Comcast's overall revenue and about a fifth of its profits.

WHY IT MATTERS: Comcast faces competitors in all its businesses, including companies that offer video over the Internet such as Netflix. Its earnings results provide a peek into sentiment among consumers and advertisers.

Its TV services are available to about 53 million homes in the U.S., with 22.1 million video subscribers. Comcast is also the nation's largest broadband Internet provider with 18.7 million customers.

WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts polled by FactSet expect the company to earn 46 cents per share on revenue of $16.08 billion.

LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: Comcast earned 33 cents per share on revenue of $14.34 billion.