Comcast Results Show Drop in Customer Growth

Largest cable operator shed 233,000 basic subscribers in fourth quarter; financial metrics hold

It looks like the economic downturn officially came to cable in the fourth quarter, putting a dent in key customer growth metrics at No. 1 MSO Comcast, while having a lesser effect on the cable giant's revenue and operating cash flow growth.

Comcast shed 233,000 basic subscribers in the fourth quarter, well above analysts' estimates. Revenue and operating cash flow growth were about 8% for the period, in-line with expectations.

Comcast also said it would increase its quarterly cash dividend by 8% to 27 cents per share.

Coupled with the accelerated basic-customer losses -- analysts expected declines to be in the 200,000 range -- Comcast also saw a slowdown in advanced services growth in the quarter. Digital additions were 247,000 in the quarter, below analysts estimates of 400,000. High-speed Internet customers rose by 184,000, compared with projections calling for 275,000 additions, while digital phone subscribers rose by 344,000, short of predictions of 425,000.

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