The company that brought you this year’s Super Bowl scored a touchdown with shareholders today.
Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSK) announced this morning that it will raise its dividend 44%, from $0.45 a share to $0.65. The catalyst for the improved dividend was apparently the cable provider’s deal with NBCUniversal, which Comcast struck a deal with a year ago and is now starting to see the pay-off.
NBC broadcast the Super Bowl earlier this month, which attracted the largest audience in U.S. history. So another strong quarter for Comcast could be ahead.
While Comcast lost 17,000 TV customers last quarter, that was the smallest subscriber loss the company has suffered in five quarters. It also was way fewer than the 125,000 lost subscribers most analysts had projected.
And although Comcast has been bleeding TV customers, it has been attracting more and more online customers. The company added 336,000 high-speed internet customers last quarter, increasing revenues for the unit by $2.2 billion.
Overall, Comcast saw a 30% rise in its annual free cash flow – hence the generous dividend increase. The company also plans also authorized $6.5 billion in share buy-backs. $3 billion of it will be repurchased this year.
The good news from this morning’s earnings announcement boosted Comcast’s stock. Shares were up 5.4% today, reaching a new 52-week high of $27.57. Comcast’s stock is up 33% since Thanksgiving week.