May 2, 2012 / 11:14 AM / 6 years ago

Comcast profit beats on Internet adds, NBC rebound

(Reuters) - Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday on continuing growth in its high-speed Internet subscribers, a strong performance at its movie studio and the start of a turnaround at its NBC broadcast business.

The offices and studios of Comcast Entertainment Group are pictured in Los Angeles November 12, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Chief Executive Brian Roberts said in an interview on CNBC his company had seen a strong performance across the board with a noted improvement at the NBC Universal cable networks-to-theme parks unit it took control of last year.

Philadelphia-based Comcast added more than 439,000 high-speed Internet subscribers and around 164,000 phone customers.

It managed to reduce the rate at which it is losing video customers during the first quarter to 37,000.

“The expectation has gotten very high that Comcast could post video additions this quarter but these numbers are moving in the right direction,” said Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett.

“The wider results point to higher valuations, they beat on margins, on profits, on free cash flow,” Moffett added.

First-quarter net income came in at $1.22 billion, or 45 cents a share, up from $943 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had forecast a profit of 42 cents according to a poll by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose by 9.6 percent to $14.88 billion.

At NBC Universal, revenue rose by 18 percent to $5.47 billion, partly due to the 2012 Super Bowl show. But even without that showpiece, the unit’s revenue was up 12.4 percent at $5.21 billion.

Long-struggling No. 4 U.S. broadcast network NBC showed the strongest signs of recovery since Comcast took control of the company last year and posted a 37 percent jump in revenue, thanks to the Super Bowl. Without the show, revenue was still up by an impressive 18 percent.

But the TV unit was $10 million negative in operating cash flow as it invested heavily in new show launches, like the second season of “The Voice” and the debut of “Smash.”

Universal Studios also posted a strong quarter with hit movies “The Lorax” and “Safe House” helping to drive up revenues by 23 percent to $1.2 billion.

The Universal theme parks also saw a 5.7 percent rise in revenue to $412 million.

Reporting By Yinka Adegoke in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Dave Zimmerman

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