PHILADELPHIA — Comcast Corp.'s fourth-quarter net income rose 18 percent, helped by improvements in its broadcast operations and growth in its high-speed Internet services.
The cable company released its fourth-quarter results Tuesday while announcing it is buying the remaining 49 percent of NBCUniversal that it didn't already own, for $16.7 billion. It is buying the stake from General Electric years ahead of schedule.
Philadelphia-based Comcast earned $1.52 billion, or 56 cents per share, in the October-December period. That's up from $1.29 billion, or 47 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.
Adjusted earnings were 52 cents per share in the latest quarter. This figure excludes a tax-related gain and other one-time items.
Revenue rose 6 percent to $15.94 billion from $15.04 billion.
Analysts polled by FactSet had expected earnings of 54 cents per share on revenue of $16.01 billion.
Comcast lost just 7,000 video subscribers in the quarter, the best result in at least five years, ending the quarter with 22 million. Cable companies routinely lose subscribers every quarter to satellite and phone-company TV services, but Comcast has been doing better than its peers when it comes to keeping subscribers.
It has also been adding broadband subscribers at a rapid pace, even though most homes already have a high-speed Internet connection, and other companies report a slowdown in new connections. In the fourth quarter, Comcast added 341,000 broadband customers. That was the best fourth-quarter figure in at least five years and left the company with 19.4 million subscribers. It's already the country's biggest Internet service provider.
Comcast also said it plans to repurchase $2 billion of its stock this year and increased its dividend by 20 percent to 78 cents per year. As part of the increase, Comcast declared a quarterly dividend of 19.5 cents, payable on April 24 to shareholders of record as of April 3.
Fueled by the NBCUniversal announcement, Comcast's stock rose $2.77, or 7 percent, to $41.74 in after-hours trading. The shares had closed up 33 cents at $38.97.