Comcast loses cable users, but internet subscribers surge

FILE- This May 21, 2018, file photo shows a sign outside the Comcast Center in Philadelphia. Comcast Corp. reports financial results Wednesday, Jan. 2

FILE- This May 21, 2018, file photo shows a sign outside the Comcast Center in Philadelphia. Comcast Corp. reports financial results Wednesday, Jan. 2

NEW YORK (AP) — Comcast continues to lose its U.S. cable customers, but racked up more internet subscribers and got a revenue boost from Sky, its big bet on European TV.

The Philadelphia company said Wednesday that it lost 29,000 U.S. cable customers in the fourth quarter, but added 351,000 internet subscribers. It also gained customers in its new cellphone-plan business.

The company is facing up to a growing number of people cutting their cable bundles to save money. A number of companies have joined Netflix in offering cheaper streaming services.

Comcast is also looking to compete there. It is launching a streaming service next year, joining the crowded field competing for consumers' attention.

It's also seeking growth overseas. Its Sky deal, completed in October after a dramatic tug of war with rival U.S. entertainment companies Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox, brings to Comcast TV, home internet and cellphone customers in Europe. In that unit, revenue would have risen 2.4 percent to $5 billion, when results are adjusted to make it as if Comcast had owned it for all of last year's fourth quarter and the year before. Without the effect of currency changes, revenue would have risen 5.6 percent.

Comcast said Wednesday that net income fell 83 percent to $2.51 billion, or 55 cents per share. A big tax benefit in 2017 from changes to the tax code weighed on this year's result.

Excluding the tax changes, adjusted earnings per share were 64 cents. Analysts polled by FactSet expected 62 cents per share.

Overall revenue rose 26 percent to $27.85 billion, getting a big bump because of the newly acquired Sky.

Revenue also rose for the broadcast and cable TV networks in its NBCUniversal division, despite tepid ad-sales growth. Its movie business got a bump from "The Grinch," which came out in November.