We are maintaining our Neutral recommendation on Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) on the back of its strong momentum in the third quarter of 2012, supported by healthy businesses generated during the London Olympics. While the company’s Cable businesses continue to beat market expectations, NBC Universal division makes a turnaround.
Importantly, the company’s struggling basic video operation continues its positive momentum. Meanwhile, Comcast has completed its major technical innovations, such as DOCSIS 3.0, all digital networks, and a multi-platform content delivery network.
Several newly launched services, such as Xfinity Home, Wi-Fi, and X1 will act as long-term growth catalysts for the company. Comcast is generating huge free cash flow and paying regular dividends. On the flip side, the stock price has soared nearly 75% in the last year, which may restrict any above market gain. Comcast, currently commands a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) on the stock.
Though Comcast is losing basic video subscribers, it has performed well while reducing its churn rate despite facing a sluggish U.S. economy. In the third quarter of 2012, Comcast lost 117,000 video subscribers compared with a net loss of 165,000 video subscribers in the prior-year quarter. Furthermore, in the previous quarter, the company gained a net 287,000 high-speed Internet subscribers and 123,000 telephony customers.
The recently concluded London Olympics was a huge success for Comcast. The TV ratings of NBC Universal sports channels have increased by 30% during the Olympics. NBC Universal generated a massive $1.25 billion in advertising revenue in the London Olympics. Further, the company has won the U.S. telecast right for the 2014 and 2018 winter Olympic Games and the 2016 and 2020 summer Olympic Games.
Alongside, NBC Universal outbid its closest rivals ABC and ESPN networks controlled by Walt Disney Co. (DIS) and Fox Network controlled by News Corp. (NWSA). NBC Universal will pay a total consideration of $4.38 billion for these four Olympic Games.