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Increase in Customers Boosts 4th-Quarter Profit at Comcast

February 27, 2001|From Bloomberg News

PHILADELPHIA — Comcast Corp., the third-largest U.S. cable-television provider, posted fourth-quarter profit on a system swap with AT&T Corp. and an increase in customers for fast Internet service and digital TV.

The company said net income was $778.5 million, or 80 cents a share, after payment of preferred dividends, contrasted with a loss of $174.2 million, or 24 cents, a year earlier. Sales rose 25% to $2.41 billion, a spokeswoman said.

Fourth-quarter profit was boosted by a pretax gain of $1.15 a share for swapping systems with No. 1 U.S. provider AT&T, according to the spokeswoman, who wouldn't provide profit excluding charges and gains. Comcast, which served 7.6 million cable homes at year's end, said sales were boosted by a more than doubling of Internet and digital TV customers. The company reiterated its 2001 forecasts made in December.

"If the economy doesn't recover, then I think they're providing guidance that is conservative enough that they should be able to hit it," said Archana Basi, an analyst at . Rowe Price Group Inc., which has been buying Comcast shares since year-end, when it owned 5.4 million. "It probably leaves a little bit of room for them to surprise on the upside."

The Philadelphia-based company said customers for digital TV, which has better sound and picture quality, rose to 1.35 million from 602,700 a year ago. Subscribers to Comcast's Internet service, which is as much as 100 times faster than access via telephone lines, rose to 400,000 from 157,800.

Comcast Special Class A shares rose $1.44 to close at $43.63 on Nasdaq. Before Monday, they had fallen 6% in the last year.

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