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Market Update

Earnings on Tap: Comcast

Comcast's combination with NBC Universal should help the firm craft new offerings and technologies, creating value for shareholders over the long run.

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Cable television giant  Comcast (CMCSA) (CMCSK) is scheduled to reveal fourth-quarter and full-year results Wednesday morning ahead of the bell. Analysts are expecting earnings to come in higher this quarter at $0.53 per A share compared with $0.47 per diluted A share reported in the corresponding quarter a year ago.

The telecom giant's profits in the third quarter increased more than twofold, driven by strong growth in its broadband and cable television network, and on account of its sale of wireless spectrum to  Verizon Wireless (VZ).

The company paid dividends totaling $435 million and repurchased 22.9 million of its common shares for $750 million during the quarter. Comcast, which expects to review its share-buyback plans in the coming months, is likely to provide an update when it releases its latest results.

In January, media reports suggested  the cable-service provider could step up its plans to take full ownership of NBC Universal. Comcast had acquired 51% of NBC Universal from  General Electric (GE) in early 2011, and is slated to purchase GE's remaining stake in two installments in 2014 and 2018.

Last September, however, Comcast hinted the possibility of acquiring all of GE's remaining stake in 2014 itself. The A&E sale proceeds will remain on NBC Universal's books to help finance the buyout of GE's stake in the business, writes Morningstar analyst Michael Hodel.

Combining with NBCU gives Comcast a clear view of the future of television on both the content creation and distribution sides. This perspective should allow it to craft new offerings and technologies that create value for both companies, adds Hodel.

The A shares are up 3.4% on a year-to-date basis and are presently trading above Hodel's fair value estimate for the company.

Gazala Parveen does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.