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Rating Action:

MOODY'S UPGRADES COMCAST CORPORATION'S RATINGS TO (P)Baa3 SENIOR UNSECURED FROM (P)Ba1; CABLE SUBSIDIARY AND JONES INTERCABLE AFFILIATE ALSO RAISED

27 Jul 1999
MOODY'S UPGRADES COMCAST CORPORATION'S RATINGS TO (P)Baa3 SENIOR UNSECURED FROM (P)Ba1; CABLE SUBSIDIARY AND JONES INTERCABLE AFFILIATE ALSO RAISED Moody's Investors Service has upgraded the ratings of Comcast Corporation to (P)Baa3 (senior unsecured) from (P)Ba1 and its subsidiary, Comcast Cable Communications to Baa2 (senior unsecured) from Baa3. In addition, Jones Intercable, Inc.'s ratings were increased to Baa3 (senior unsecured) from Ba1. The rating action concludes a review initiated on January 20th with the announcement that Comcast would sell its cellular telephone subsidiary, Comcast Cellular Corporation (A2 senior unsecured) to SBC Communications (A2 senior unsecured) for $1.7 billion. The transaction closed on July 8th.

The ratings upgrade reflects the improvement in the company's debt protection measures resulting from the disposal of the cellular operations, which was the most leveraged of the company's segments. In addition, the sale removes the negative uncertainty that has surrounded the company's ability to compete in the wireless sector since the advent of PCS.

Moody's also views Comcast's cable operations to be well positioned as an industry leader, especially given its spate of recent acquisitions, such as the AT&T transaction which will increase the company's total subscribers to approximately 8.1 million by 2001 from 4.5 million in 1998. We expect the company to benefit from organic product growth opportunities such as digital video, high speed Internet access, and Internet Protocol based telephony, which will significantly grow free cash flow and improve the company's financial flexibility and credit metrics further over the intermediate-term. Moody's believes that U.S. cable acquisition opportunities are beginning to wain, and therefore event risk driven by the consolidation is moderating. However, the company will likely continue to make investments in cable and related content for the foreseeable future, such as the possibility of buying out partners in non-wholly-owned ventures within the consolidated Comcast group. Capital expenditures levels will likely remain constant as the company moves its spending from its exiting cable systems plant, which have been largely upgraded, to upgrading the plant of the newly acquired systems and to new generations of set top boxes, cable modems and other capitally intensive but variable and revenue driven products.

At the same time, we expect that the company will maintain its relatively moderate level of leverage, and its financial flexibility with the help from extensive investments in AT&T, Sprint PCS, @Home, and NTL currently valued at nearly $7.5 billion, which Moody's expects Comcast will monetize over the next several years. Moody's rating anticipates maintenance of debt to EBITDA leverage of comfortably under 4.0 times and that future acquisitions and investments will be funded with a balance of equity as well debt.

The ratings upgraded include Comcast Corp.'s debt shelf registrations to (P)Baa3 (senior unsecured) from (P)Ba1 and (P)Ba2 (subordinated) from (P)Ba3; its issuer rating to Baa3 from Ba1; its senior subordinated notes, senior subordinated debentures, and convertible subordinated debentures to Ba2 from Ba3; its preferred stock shelf registration to (P)"ba2" from (P)"ba3; Comcast Cable Communications' senior unsecured debt to Baa2 from Baa3; its debt shelf registrations to (P)Baa2 (senior unsecured) from (P)Baa3 and (P)Baa3 (subordinated) from (P)Ba2; Jones Intercable Inc.'s senior unsecured debt to Baa3 from Ba1; its senior subordinated debt to Ba2 from Ba3; and Jones Cable Holdings I & II's senior secured debt to Baa1 from Baa2.

Comcast Corporation, with its headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the nation's largest cable television system operators, owns and operates cable television programming and a major electronic retailer, owns sports teams and arenas and owns other material related but non-core investments.



No Related Data.
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