Earnings Preview: Comcast to report 4Q earnings

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NEW YORK (AP) — Comcast Corp., the nation’s biggest provider of pay-TV and the majority owner of NBC Universal, is expected to extend its string of strong results when it reports its fourth-quarter earnings before the market opens Wednesday

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Comcast’s results have outpaced its peers in the cable industry and investors have buoyed its stock, which is up 33 percent over the past six months.

Cable companies like Comcast have been losing cable-TV customers for years to satellite broadcasters, and more recently to phone companies like AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. But Comcast has been able to keep revenue from TV growing by raising fees and signing people up for pricier packages. That adds to momentum in its Internet services, which keep snagging customers from the phone companies.

Citigroup analyst Jason Bazinet expects Comcast to report losing 125,000 cable subscribers, fewer than last year. He expects it to have added 275,000 broadband subscribers, down slightly from 292,000 a year ago. But it would still be a strong showing, considering that other companies are seeing big slowdowns in the recruitment of Internet customers now that more than two-thirds of all U.S. households have broadband.

WHY IT MATTERS: Comcast provides cable television services to about a fifth of U.S. households.

WHAT’S EXPECTED: Analysts on average expect Comcast to earn 41 cents per share on revenue of $14.94 billion, according to FactSet.

LAST YEAR’S QUARTER: Comcast earned $1.02 billion, or 36 cents per share, on $9.72 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2010. Those results didn’t include NBC Universal. Comcast bought a majority stake in the movie studio and stable of TV networks in January.