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No. 8: Comcast

Philadelphia

Revenue: $8.370 billion

Cash flow: $2.528 billion

With or without AT&T Broadband, Comcast remains a darling of Wall Street for its crisp margins and operational efficiencies.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts says the AT&T system would boost cash flow by 6%- 9% in three years. But if it fails to get AT&T, where does that leave Comcast? It would remain among the leading operators with almost 8 million customers, but without a major vehicle to drive growth even faster.

In the past year, Comcast has continued to roll out advanced services, concentrating largely on digital cable, high-speed Internet and video-on-demand.

The company projects it will have 2.2 million digital and 950,000 high-speed customers by year’s end. Operating cash flow grew by 13% in the first half of 2001 even as the company swallowed 2 million new customers through swaps and acquisitions in 2000 and more than a half-million more in 2001.

Blessed with a strong balance sheet and the fortune to have escaped buying MediaOne two years back, Roberts believes it is vital to get digital boxes to homes quickly.

“What’s most important is to get a lot of boxes out,” Roberts said in June. “If only a few people have them, who are you interacting with?”

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