Comcast profit down, telephony revenue strong

Cable TV giant Comcast saw an anticipated write-down related to its investment in Clearwire drive down its profit for the fourth quarter of 2008 to about $412 million, a drop of 32 percent from the previous year. Revenue, however, was up about 9 percent to $8.77 billion, an improvement largely driven by increases in digital cable TV and telephony customers and revenue. Had it not been for the write-down, the company would have seen overall profit growth, a situation similar to what fellow Clearwire investor Time Warner Cable experienced.

Comcast saw basic cable subscriber figures tumble by 233,000, but the company gained 247,000 higher-paying digital cable customers. Comcast added 184,000 Internet subscribers during the fourth quarter, far fewer than it added the same quarter in 2007. Its voice telephony subscriber additions 344,000 also were down sharply, about 44 percent, from telephony subscriber gains posted in the fourth quarter of 2007. Still, telephony revenue grew 45 percent to $731 million.

Comcast also nodded to investor pleas by agreeing to increase dividend payments by 2 percent. And, prior to the earnings report, the company said its four top executives had agreed not to take pay increases during 2009, and that CEO Brian Roberts had relinquished a previous right to have his estate collect his full salary for five years after his death. We are getting to the point where it might have been bigger news if such obviously logical moves had not happened.

For more:
- The Associated Press covers the earnings
- Multichannel News reports on the pay freeze

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