This week’s Stock of the Week is at the top of its game and making several smart moves to stay that way.
Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) has the largest high-speed Internet business in the US—on top of the cable-TV business for which it is better known. Investors’ overblown worries about consumer cord cutting or cord shaving—stopping cable service or subscribing to fewer channels—have held back the stock, creating a buying opportunity.
Comcast is not sitting idly by while consumer tastes change. In particular, in cutting cable use, most consumers will rely on video content received via high-speed Internet service instead—and Comcast is increasingly providing exactly that. It also recently started rolling out its Xfinity Mobile service nationally. This service uses the Verizon network to provide mobile phone service and is included with a subscription to Comcast Internet. All of these pieces, taken together, greatly help Comcast retain customers.
Comcast is also experimenting with its own “skinny bundles”—drastically stripped-down packages of TV channels. Investors should also remember that Comcast owns the NBC network and Universal theme parks.
Only about one-third of EBITDA—earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization—comes from these holdings, but that is still a lot of money. Comcast had revenue of $80.4 billion in 2016 and is likely to report $84.7 billion for 2017 and $90 billion for 2018. And the stock’s dividend of $0.63/share/yr., recently yielding 1.8%, appears secure.
Comcast has reportedly considered purchasing certain assets of 21st Century Fox, but it is not clear how likely this is and what would be included or at what price if an acquisition does take place.
Fiscal year: December. Earnings per share: 2018 est./$2.24…2017 est./$2.04…2016/$1.74.
Michael Scanlon is managing director, investments, Manulife Asset Management, and portfolio manager of the $1.9 billion John Hancock Balanced Fund (SVBAX), Boston. JHFunds.com