Tale of Two Media Stock Earnings

The nation’s largest cable operator experienced solid earnings growth last quarter. But not for the reasons you might expect.

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) reported a 32% uptick in its second-quarter earnings this morning. Net profit for the quarter was 50 cents a share, up from 37 cents a share last year and edging the 47 cents per share that analysts were projecting. Revenue was up 6.1% to $15.21 billion.

I wrote yesterday how media stocks such as Comcast should be getting a nice boost from the record amount of money being spent on presidential election advertising this year. Comcast owns NBCUniversal, one of the four major U.S. TV networks.

However, Comcast’s stellar earnings came in spite of its NBCUniversal revenue – not because of it.

NBCUniversal revenue slipped a bit from the previous year thanks in large part to an $83 million in its film division. Disappointing box-office sales for its summer blockbuster “Battleship” were the main culprit behind the loss.

Instead, Comcast’s streaming video and broadband services picked up the slack. Revenues for its streaming video service grew 2.8% from the previous year, while broadband revenue saw an 8.9% increase.

The strong earnings have boosted Comcast shares to a new 52-week high today of $34.

Fellow media giant Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) hasn’t been so fortunate. Its earnings declined 33% in the second quarter, dragged down by slower publishing and film revenues.

Time Warner’s TV unit – which makes up the majority of its business – also didn’t do so hot. The company shuttered its general entertainment network in India and its TNT network in Turkey. Those closures cost the company about $147 million.

Fortunately for Time Warner, investors aren’t punishing the stock too harshly for the company’s sharp earnings decline. TWX shares were down just 0.2% in early trading.

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