Comcast consistently returns value
Comcast (CMCSA) has impressed its shareholders by providing attractive dividends for the last several years. The company also buys back shares consistently to return value to its shareholders. In the first quarter, the company rewarded $2.2 billion to its shareholders by way of dividends and share repurchases.
The company returned a total of $7.9 billion to its shareholders in 2017, up from $7.6 billion in 2016 but down from $9.2 billion in 2015.
Share buyback trend
In the first quarter, Comcast paid back ~$1.5 billion worth of capital to its shareholders through buybacks totaling 38.6 million shares. The company now has $5.5 billion worth of shares available under its share repurchase authorization as of March 31. The company expects to repurchase at least $5 billion worth of stock from its shareholders through share buybacks in 2018. It repurchased shares worth $5 billion in 2017, $5 billion in 2016, and $6.8 billion in 2015.
Comcast paid a quarterly dividend of $0.19 per share, or $738 million, during the first quarter, and it paid dividends totaling ~$2.9 billion in 2017. Its next quarterly dividend of $0.19 per share will be paid on July 25 to shareholders of record as of July 3. In January, the company’s board approved an annualized dividend increase of 21% to $0.76 per share, making 2018 the tenth year in which the company has pursued a dividend increase.
Strong free cash flow drives capital return policy
Comcast has been maintaining a steady free cash flow, which may allow it to move forward with its ongoing capital return policy. The company exited the first quarter with free cash flow of $3.1 billion compared to $3.2 billion in the first quarter of 2017. In the last six quarters, the company has maintained a minimum free cash flow of $2.0 billion in each quarter.