Comcast receives earnings boost after ‘tough moment’ of Shell shock

Comcast’s first quarter results provided a minor boost following the shock departure of NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell this week, with the cable and media giant posting a rise in profits that beat forecasts on the strength of broadband and its theme park business.

The uptick in profit and earnings per share came despite a 4.3% drop in revenue to US$29.7 billion on an unfavourable comparison with the same period last year, when the group benefited from the Olympics and the US Superbowl.

Net income came in at US$3.8 billion, up 8%, although adjusted net income was flat. EBITDA was up 2.9% to US$9.4 billion on the strength of the company’s broadband business and particularly its theme parks.

The connectivity and platforms business overall posted revenue of US$17.9 billion, down 0.7%, and adjusted EBITDA of US$6.8 billion, up 3.2%.

Content and experiences, which included media as well as theme parks, was down overall by 9.5% to US$10.3 billion, reflecting a 20.7% fall in media revenues. Without the Olympics and Super Bowl comparisons, media was down 2%. The theme park business, however, grew by 24.9%. Adjusted EBITDA for content and experiences was US$1.6 billion, down 1%.

Briefly alluding to the departure of Shell, who has been accused of sexual harassment in the course of a relationship he admitted was “inappropriate”, CEO Brian Roberts said the firing of Shell was “obviously a tough moment” without naming the dismissed executive by name.

Roberts said Comcast was “lucky to have Mike Cavanagh step in at the helm at NBCUniversal while also remaining president”.

Roberts said Comcast had gotten off to “a strong quarter and start to the year”.

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