Comcast Doubles Q4 Profit

Comcast on Wednesday announced it had more than doubled its fourth-quarter profit, as gains in its core communications business helped the cable giant surpass Wall St. expectations.

The Philadelphia-based Comcast reported Q4 ‘09 net income of $955 million, or 33 cents a share, up 132 percent from $412 million, or 14 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding onetime tax charges and a year-ago write-down, Comcast earned 29 cents a share in the quarter, beating consensus estimates of 27 cents a share.

Revenue grew 3 percent to $9.07 billion, up from $8.81 billion. Comcast’s cable operations accounted for $8.56 billion, or 94 percent of the corporation’s overall revenue haul.

On the programming side of the ledger, Comcast’s entertainment arm amassed $368 million in total revenue, up 5 percent from the same time a year ago. That growth was credited to an improving advertising marketplace and increased affiliate fees.

Comcast’s cable networks include E!, Style, Golf Channel and G4.

Local ad sales revenue declined 8 percent in Q4 to $426 million, marking a sequential improvement from a drop of 16 percent in the third quarter of 2009 and a 20 percent plunge in the second quarter. Excluding political spend from the the year-ago period, Comcast actually enjoyed a 10 percent gain in local ad sales revenue.

Chairman and chief executive officer Brian Roberts said the company is “excited about the opportunity to strengthen [its] position in content through the announced NBC Universal transaction,” adding that the cable giant’s distribution might will allow for “significant cross-platform integration and product innovation.”

The Federal Communications Commission’s review of the deal is expected to proceed through the end of this year. On Thursday, Feb. 4, Roberts and NBCU chief Jeff Zucker will testify before two Congressional committees (the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee) to argue that the proposed joint venture will benefit consumers and encourage competition.

In morning trading, shares of Comcast were down 18 cents, or 1.11 percent, to $16.12.

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