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Comcast (CMCSA) Riding the Olympic Wave

Ian Wyatt

Everybody loves the Olympics. This year at least, it’s doubtful anyone loves them more than Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) executives.

Shares of the media giant are up 7% since the London Olympics began a little over a week ago. There’s a reason – Comcast owns NBCUniversal, whose array of TV networks have been airing the London Games in the U.S. since they began on July 27.

And this year’s Olympics have been ratings gold.

Through Sunday, the London Olympics were averaging 33.6 million viewers on NBC in primetime – the highest since 1996, the last time the Summer Olympics were held on U.S. soil.

Like this year’s record-setting Super Bowl, which also aired on NBC, Comcast is turning viewers into stock returns.

At $34.55 per share, Comcast’s stock is just off its 52-week high of $35.16 a share. The 7% bump the stock has gotten over the past 10 days is similar to the nearly 8% run it went on in the two weeks that followed Super Bowl XLVI, which attracted a record U.S. audience of 111 million viewers in early February.

The monster ratings played a role in Comcast’s 30% year-over-year earnings growth in the first quarter. Comcast’s second-quarter earnings improved 32% from a year ago.

If the London Olympics can boost NBC’s revenue enough to make a serious dent in Comcast’s third-quarter earnings, then the shares may continue to look like gold.