Comcast’s cash flows
Comcast (CMCSA) exited the first quarter of 2019 with free cash flows of $4.6 billion compared to $3.1 billion in Q1 2018 and $2.9 billion in Q4 2018. In the last five quarters, the company has maintained a minimum free cash flow of $2.0 billion in each quarter. Operating cash flow was $7.2 billion in the first quarter.
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Comcast has used its steady free cash flows to pay attractive dividends and buy back shares for the last several years. Notably, the company rewarded a total of $8.4 billion to its shareholders in 2018, up from $7.9 billion in 2017 and $7.6 billion in 2016.
In Q1 2019, the company paid $869 million in dividends but did not repurchase any shares due to the termination of buybacks in October 2018 to focus on reducing its debt levels in connection with its $40 billion acquisition of Sky.
The company pays an annual dividend of $0.84 per share, which was raised by 10% in Q4 2018. Comcast has raised its annual dividend for 11 years. An annualized dividend of $0.84 means that the new quarterly dividend will be $0.21, which was paid on April 24 to shareholders as of April 3.