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History of Comcast

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From American Cable Systems to Comcast

Ralph J. Roberts founded Comcast (CMCSA). In 1963, Ralph J. Roberts bought a cable system for $500,000 in Tupelo, Mississippi, with 1,200 subscribers. The company was named American Cable Systems. In 1969, American Cable Systems was renamed Comcast Corporation.

Comcast went public in 1972 and began to trade on the NASDAQ with the symbols CMCSA and CMCSK, for its Class A common stock and Class A special common stock, respectively. Comcast’s Class B common stock is not publicly traded.

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Key milestones for Comcast

Comcast has reached several key milestones since its founding.

  • In 1988, Comcast had 2 million customers and became the fifth-largest cable company in the United States.
  • Comcast bought AT&T (T) Broadband cable systems in 2002, resulting in Comcast becoming the biggest cable company in the United States with 21 million customers.
  • In 2011, Comcast acquired a 51% stake in NBCUniversal from General Electric (GE). Later in 2013, Comcast acquired General Electric’s remaining stake in the company.

Comcast had a market capitalization of $140.5 billion as of December 24, 2015. In this series, we’ll explore the business of Comcast Cable Communications and its key business trends.

Reclassification of shares

During its 3Q15 earnings call, Comcast announced the decision to reclassify each share of the Comcast Class A special common stock to one share each of Comcast Class A common stock. Comcast has stated that this decision aims to:

  • avoid “investor confusion caused by having two classes of publicly traded stock”
  • improve trading liquidity

Comcast makes up 0.44% of the iShares US Preferred Stock ETF (PFF). For an investor interested in getting exposure to communications, PFF has exposure of 0.79% to that sector. PFF also holds 0.94% of Frontier Communications (FTR).

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