Revenue: $9.67 billion
Profits: $609 million
Over the past few years, the Philadelphia-based Roberts clan has been quietly building a formidable empire in the cable TV business. But there was nothing low-profile about a recent bid to boost their company, Comcast Corp., through a $70 billion tie-up with AT&T Broadband.
That’s not to say that Comcast didn’t have a lot going for it before the megamerger was announced in December. The company boasts 8.5 million subscribers, placing it third in the U.S. behind AT&T Broadband and Time Warner Cable.
Comcast also has equity investments in home-shopping giant QVC and cable network E! Entertainment Television. And it has a tight grip on professional sports in its home town through a 67% stake in a partnership that owns pro basketball’s 76ers and professional hockey team the Flyers.
In its most recent quarter, Comcast managed to wring some solid topline growth out of those assets. It boosted revenues by 16% thanks to an increase in subscribers and improvements at QVC.
That performance, however, hasn’t impressed investors. Comcast has been battered along with the rest of the cable sector over the past year amid concerns about the economic slowdown and the industry’s penchant for running up billion-dollar debts to upgrade networks.
Comcast and prexy Brian Roberts have also had to fight off worries that it has bitten off more than it can chew with the proposed AT&T Broadband deal. Critics expressed concern over the merger’s chances with regulators as well as Comcast’s ability to integrate AT&T’s somewhat antiquated hardware into the Phillie cabler’s more modern network.
As a result, Comcast shares have tumbled by more than 50% over the past year.