Broadband growth once again highlights Comcast's fourth quarter earnings

Comcast
Comcast adds 442,000 broadband customers in the fourth quarter and 1.4 million broadband customers for the full year. (Comcast)

Highlighted by growth in its number of broadband subscribers, Comcast's net profit in the fourth quarter increased by 26%.

In its Thursday morning earnings, Comcast announced it added 442,000 broadband subscribers in the quarter, which partially offset the loss of 149,000 pay-TV customers, and was a 28% increase over the same quarter a year ago. For the full fiscal year, Comcast added 1.4 million broadband customers, which marked its best performance in 12 years.

Comcast's broadband division accounted for $4.8 billion in revenue while traditional pay-TV brought in about $5.5 billion.

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"We'll continue to strengthen our already leading position in broadband," Comcast CEO and Chairman Brian Roberts said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. "At cable, we are launching our fastest gateway, delivering true multi-gig speeds with unprecedented Wi-Fi range and we're providing our customers with added protection by offering new features like xFi advanced security for free.

"At Sky, we are building on our success in broadband in the U.K. and Cable's continued success with xFi in the U.S. to launch broadband in Italy this year."

Comcast's Xfinity Mobile service added 261,000 new subscribers in the fourth quarter, which was a 15% increase year-over-year. In the fourth quarter, mobile generated $372 million in revenue. Comcast now has more than 2 million mobile customers.

Comcast's high-speed Internet services showed growth of 8.8% while wireless growth was up 39%.

Like other cable operators, Comcast has been working to wean itself off of the traditional cable bundles by offering wireless and streaming options to reduce customer churn. In order to bring back cord cutters and win over "cord nevers," Comcast and NBCUniversal announced its new streaming platform, Peacock, last week. According to FierceVideo, Peacock has service has a free tier available to everyone and a premium tier that costs $4.99 per month with advertising (or $9.99/month with no ads.)

 RELATED: Deeper Dive—Can Peacock meet its goals for active users, revenue?

Starting on April 15, Comcast's pay-TV and broadband subscribers will get the ad-supported version of Peacock ahead of wider availability on July 15.

Overall, Comcast turned in a profit of about $3.16 bill in the fourth quarter, or 68 cents per share, which met analysts' expectations. In the same quarter a year ago, Comcast reported a profit of $2.51 billion, or 55 cents per share.

Comcast's revenue was up 2% to $28.4 billion, with earnings per share of 68 cents. Non-GAAP earnings were 79 cents a share and 2 cents a share ahead of analysts' expectations. The company also said it would increase its dividend by 10% to 92 cents per share, which was its 12th consecutive annual increase.

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