Friday, 26 April 2024

Why Comcast Stock Slid 6% on Thursday

by BD Banks

Cable internet giant Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) stock slipped 6% through 11:11 a.m. ET Thursday despite the company reporting better than expected sales and earnings for the first quarter of 2024.

Analysts had forecast the communications company would earn only $0.99 per share (non-GAAP, or adjusted) on sales of $29.8 billion in Q1, but Comcast surprised to the upside with $1.04 per share in earnings and sales of $30.1 billion. Yet its stock fell. Why?

Comcast’s Q1 earnings report

Comcast’s news wasn’t all good. While the company beat expectations on both the top and bottom lines, revenue still only grew about 1% year over year, and net income rose less than 1%.

Still, by buying back shares (so that what net income there was, was divvied up among fewer shares), Comcast managed to grow its earnings per share 6.5%, to $0.97 according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). What’s more, Comcast’s free cash flow for the quarter surged nearly 20%, to $4.5 billion, which was better than reported net income.

Also of interest: Comcast grew its broadband internet revenue 4% — 4 times faster than total revenue growth. And the company increased its wireless customer subscriber count by 21%, to 6.9 million subscribers.

Is Comcast stock a buy?

Still, the number that interests me most is Comcast’s free cash flow, which grew tremendously. At $16.8 billion, FCF now outstrips trailing net income by about 9%. And valued on these cash profits, Comcast stock costs less than 9x FCF. Considering that Comcast pays its shareholders a respectable 3.1% dividend yield, it shouldn’t take more than about 6% annual growth to make this stock look like a bargain.

Thanks to stock buybacks, Comcast actually just grew EPS by 6.5% (and FCF nearly 20%). Were it not for the fact that Comcast carries $90 billion more debt than cash on its balance sheet, I’d probably be calling this stock a buy right now. With the debt, I’m less sure — but right now, and despite today’s sell-off, I’m still leaning toward the buy camp on Comcast stock.

Should you invest $1,000 in Comcast right now?

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Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Comcast. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.