Led in part by a hoard of out-of-control dinosaurs and a gaggle of adorable yellow creatures,Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) had a very strong third quarter.
The success of Jurassic World and Minions helped the Filmed Entertainment Revenue division to a 64% increase in revenue, and the dino pic made Universal Pictures the first studio to ever have three films hit $1 billion in global box office in the same year. But movies were only one piece of the puzzle during a quarter in which consolidated revenue increased 11.2% to $18.7 billion.
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"I'm pleased to report that our businesses generated outstanding revenue and operating cash flow growth for the third quarter of 2015," said CEO Brian Roberts in the earnings release. The executive noted the growth in the movie division and also cited improvements in the cable division (where pay television and Internet service are housed). "At Cable Communications, overall customer relationships increased 156,000, a 90% improvement compared to last year, video subscriber results were the best for a third quarter in 9 years, high-speed Internet subscriber results were the best for a third quarter in 6 years, and churn across all product categories continues to improve."
Overall it was a strong quarter that left company executives excited about growth potential moving forward.
Cable growth requires innovationWhile the company lost 48,000 cable subscribers during the period, it grew its total customer base when you factor in Internet. Roberts said during the earnings call that Cable Communications could continue to drive revenue growth, but it will require innovation. He cited the success of the company's X1 platform (a cable box with enhanced interactive functions) and early results from deployment of its voice command remote control.
The CEO explained that the company needs to continue to move those efforts forward:
Roberts also noted that adding new ways to watch shows, including video on demand and enhanced DVRs, lowers churn. He said that the company's technology efforts have paid off, and that they will make leaving less attractive for subscribers.
Basically, the CEO has found that giving people more for their money makes it less likely that they will leave because it increases the value of Comcast's offering compared to cutting the cord.
Theme parks can grow with investmentComcast's Universal Studios theme parks also had a big quarter, with record attendance (driven in part by the company's Florida Harry Potter attractions) driving revenue and operating cash flow growth of 14.1%. Roberts said he expected to continue to invest in theme parks, and noted that the company had announced a deal to acquire a 51% stake in Universal Studios Japan earlier in the quarter.
The company's strong theme park performance also has a key rival, Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS), taking notice. Though Disney does not acknowledge that it's being pushed by Universal Studios, it's hard to see the Mouse House's recent announcement of its biggest-ever single-theme expansion at both its California and Florida properties as anything but an answer to Harry Potter.
Disney will add 14-acre "lands" devoted to Star Wars at both Disneyland in California and Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. Universal Studios opens a Harry Potter attraction in its West Coast park in 2016.
Customers matterIn its cable and Internet business Comcast has made an effort to improve its much-maligned customer service. This has included adding thousands of new employees and attempting a broad overhaul of how the company treats its subscribers. In addition to those ongoing efforts, the company has also taken note of what consumers want in developing its products offerings.
"We are responding to different customer preferences, segmenting the market effectively with a variety of video packages and offers, like our Internet Plus offering to appeal to customers that might otherwise choose to purchase only broadband from us," CFO Michael Cavanaugh said during the call. "Providing the right introduction to our products allows us to better retain our customers and potentially migrate them to higher end packages over time, improving our customer lifetime value."
There was a time, a long period of it, where Comcast listening to customers was as likely as it launching a campaign for people to give up television and start reading more. Cavanaugh's comments show a fairly sizable shift in core thinking for a company that has long operated as if customers needed it. Offering packages that match what people want should allow Comcast to minimize cord cutting and actually attract some subscribers it otherwise may not have.
The article 3 Things Comcast Corp. Management Wants Investors to Know originally appeared on Fool.com.
Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned. He is wondering how early is too early to line up for Star Wars land. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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