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Strong demand for its high-speed internet helps Comcast beat Wall Street estimates with fourth quarter results

The addition of 350,000 new high-speed internet customers and a solid performance from the theme parks business more than offset a fall in video subscribers
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Analysts have questioned how much the broadband business can continue to grow

Media and cable giant Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) topped Wall Street forecasts with its fourth quarter profits on Wednesday.

Excluding the one-time impact of a US$12.7bn boost from the recent wave of US tax reforms, the Philadelphia-based group reported earnings per share of US$0.49 on revenues of US$21.92bn in the three months ended 31 December.

Analysts had expected EPS of US$0.47 and sales of US$21.82bn, according to Thomson Reuters.

That compares to the adjusted EPS of US$0.45 and revenues of US$21.03bn that Comcast reported last year.

The CNBC and NBCUniversal owner was boosted by the addition of 350,000 high-speed internet users during the quarter and, although that was slightly less than last year, it was more than the 312,000 Wall Street had been looking for.

That, along with a decent performance from its theme park business, more than offset the loss of 33,000 video customers during the period, something the firm attributed to more “aggressive” offers from competitors such as Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN).

The US’ biggest cable operator also raised its quarterly dividend by 21% to US$0.19 a share, and said it expects to buy back at least US$5bn of stock in 2018.

The current quarter is a big one for Comcast, given that NBC will be televising the SuperBowl and the Winter Olympics in Pyongyang.

“I am exceptionally proud of our performance this past year, and we enter 2018 with significant momentum,” said chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts.

“In 2017, we achieved strong financial and operational results while also delivering new innovations, experiences and must-see content to people around the world.”

Comcast shares were up 0.9% to US$42.82 early on Wednesday.

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