Comcast Leads Cable Stocks Lower With Weaker Broadband View
(Bloomberg) -- Comcast Corp. led cable-company stocks lower after forecasting slower growth in broadband subscribers than Wall Street was expecting. It was followed by Altice USA Inc., which now expects a drop in customers.
Dave Watson, the head of Comcast’s cable division, told a UBS investor conference Tuesday that the Philadelphia-based company expects to sign up about 1.3 million new high-speed internet customers in 2021. Analysts had expected Comcast to add 1.4 million subscribers this year, the average of 11 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
At the same conference, Altice Chief Executive Officer Dexter Goei said his company expects to lose 5,000 to 10,000 broadband subscribers this year. Analysts had forecast a gain of 26,400 internet subscribers.
Comcast shares fell as much as 6.9%, their largest intraday drop in almost three months. Altice lost as much as 6.7%, while Charter Communications Inc. slumped as much as 5%.
Cable investors are sensitive to any signs that broadband subscriber growth -- the industry’s main focus -- is slowing. Comcast has partly blamed a slower new home market for the slowdown. The company finished the third quarter with 31.7 million internet subscribers, the most among U.S. providers.
“The overall opportunity is still intact, but cable will be forced to play defense as telecoms get more aggressive on their fiber rollouts,” Geetha Ranganathan, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, said in a note.
She projects Comcast will add about 185,000 broadband customers this quarter, the least since mid-2017.
Watson also said that Comcast will finish 2021 with a gain of about 3.2 million broadband customers over two years and expects to set a record for new wireless lines in the fourth quarter.
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