Comcast Corp. has strong fourth quarter Revenues hit $1 billion, up from $360.2 million

March 02, 1996|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Comcast Corp., which operates three large cable TV systems in the Baltimore area, reported strong results for its fourth quarter yesterday as its revenues and operating cash flow both surged.

The Philadelphia-based company, which also operates the QVC shopping network and several cellular phone systems, said its total fourth-quarter revenues jumped to $1 billion from $360.2 million in the comparable quarter a year ago.

Excluding results from the acquisition of QVC and Maclean Hunter's U.S. cable systems, Comcast revenues came to $426.1 million, an 18.3 percent increase.

Comcast's operating cash flow, the most closely watched barometer for cable companies, came to $274.3 million, compared with $140.1 million for the same quarter of 1994. Excluding the acquisitions, operating cash flow was $163.8 million, a 17 percent increase.

Paul Sweeney, a telecommunications analyst with Wheat First Butcher Singer in Richmond, called the results "excellent," adding, "This is now the third quarter where Comcast has shown really good growth."

Comcast's stock closed yesterday at $19.635, up 37.5 cents from Thursday's trading.

In the earnings column, Comcast reported a net loss of $6.6 million, or 3 cents a share, compared with a loss of $29.5 million, or 13 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of 1994.

However, net income is not the most important indicator of a cable company's performance, because high interest payments and depreciation usually cancel out any profits.

"Most cable companies do not report positive earnings," Mr. Sweeney said.

In addition to strong growth in its core cable business, Comcast also enjoyed a strong performance from QVC, which showed a fourth-quarter increase in operating cash flow of 14.2 percent.

"It's outstanding considering the very difficult environment many retailers had in the fourth quarter, said Mr. Sweeney.

Comcast ended 1995 with annual revenues of $3.4 billion, compared with $1.4 billion in 1994, as the Maclean Hunter and QVC properties brought in new business.

Even without those acquisitions, Comcast's annual revenue was 17.2 percent.

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