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Comcast Corp. (CMCSA - Analyst Report) reported excellent financial results for the first quarter of 2012, easily outpacing the Zacks Consensus Estimates. While the company’s Cable businesses continue to beat market expectations, NBC Universal has started providing synergies. Importantly, the company’s struggling basic video operation continues its positive momentum.

GAAP net income for the first quarter of 2012 was $1,224 million or 45 cents per share compared with a net income of $943 million or 34 cents per share in the prior-year quarter. However, quarterly EPS of 45 cents surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 43 cents. The first-quarter 2012 total revenue came in at $14,878 million, up 9.6 % year over year, well above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $14,405 million. Both Cable Communications and NBC Universal segments generated solid revenue growth.  

Quarterly operating costs and expenses were $10,190 million, up 26.4% year over year. However, quarterly operating income was $2,758 million, up 24% year over year. Operating margin, in the first quarter of 2012, was 18.5% compared with 18.3% in the prior-year quarter. During the reported quarter, Comcast repurchased 25.9 million of its common share for $750million and paid dividends totaling $304 million.

During the first quarter of 2012, Comcast generated $4,688 million of cash from operations compared with $4,066 million in the year-ago quarter. Consolidated free cash flow in the reported quarter was $3,039 million compared with $2,221 million in the prior-year quarter. Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the first quarter of 2012 were $2,207 million compared with $1,620 million at the end of 2011. Total debt at the end of the previous quarter was approximately $37,785 million compared with $39,309 million at the end of 2011. At the end of the reported quarter, debt-to-capitalization ratio was 0.42 compared with 0.44 at the end of 2011.

Cable Communications Segment

Quarterly pro forma revenue was $9,599 million, up 5.7% year over year. Pro forma operating cash flow was $3,955 million, up 5.5% year over year. Within this segment, Video revenue was $4,969 million, up 1.6% year over year. High-Speed Internet revenue was $2,323 million, up 10.3% year over year. Voice revenue was $878 million, up 2% year over year. Advertising revenue was $476 million, up 4.8% year over year. Business Services revenue was $541 million, up 37% year over year. Other revenue was $412 million, up 8.9% year over year.

As of March 31, 2012, Comcast had 18.582 million (up 6.8% year over year) High-Speed Internet customers; 9.506 million (up 7.2% year over year) Voice customers; and 22.294 million (down 2% year over year) Video customers.

NBC Universal Segment

Quarterly pro forma revenue was $5,472 million, up 18% year over year. The segment’s pro forma operating cash flow was $813 million, up 34.3% year over year. Within this segment, Cable Networks revenue was $2,138 million, up 5.8% year over year. Broadcast TV revenue was $1,851 million, up 36.9% year over year. Filmed Entertainment revenue was $1,192 million, up 22.3% year over year. Theme Parks revenue was $412 million, up 5.7% year over year.

Our Take

Comcast becamethe largest integrated content development and distribution company in the U.S.after completing the acquisition of the majority stake of NBC Universal from General Electric Co. (GE - Analyst Report). We also remain quite optimistic regarding the company’s diversification, network upgrade and innovative product offering strategies.Comcast continues to post strong growth in revenue and free cash flow. We maintain our long-term Neutral recommendation on Comcast. Currently, it holds a Zacks#3 Rank (Hold) on the stock.

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