Comcast raises profit 54%, declares dividend

Cable TV giant Comcast Corp. posted fourth-quarter 2007 numbers that, at least at the surface level, showed some rebound from recent troubling quarters in which competition from telcos seemed to take a toll. Comcast also announced a quarterly dividend of 6.25 cents per share and a pledge to buy back about $6.9 billion in shares by the end of 2009. The company reported a 54% increase in fourth-quarter net income to about $602 million, or 20 cents per share. The final quarter of 2006, by comparison, showed EPS of 13 cents per share. Revenue was up 14% to $8 billion. Some growth in spending by cable TV customers fueled overall numbers, but other notable contributors included a 73% increase in revenue from digital phone services to $523 million, and a 14% increase in high-speed Internet revenue to $1.7 billion.

Still, Comcast showed slower growth in new broadband subscribers, a negative trend that also is affecting other service providers. Also, while the cable TV firm defended itself to the Federal Communications Commission this week against allegations it blocked peer-to-peer Internet traffic, it did formally admit to delaying traffic, continuing its status as poster boy for Net neutrality. In other Comcast news, the company said it will rescind a multi-million dollar benefit plan that would have been payable to the estate of 87-year-old Comcast founder Ralph Roberts (father of current CEO Brian Roberts) upon his death. The plan had been criticized by one major investor who had called for Brian Roberts to step down from his post.

For more:
- see this earnings story from the Associated Press
- read this story about Roberts' benefits at The Wall Street Journal

Related articles:
- Comcast announced a broadband boost earlier this week