By PETER SVENSSONAP Technology Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable company and owner of NBCUniversal, on Wednesday said its net income rose 17 percent in the latest quarter, powered by continued strong results from its cable operations.
Price increases on cable TV helped boost numbers, as subscribers paid an average of $3.40 more per month compared to the same period last year.
Comcast also continued to recruit new broadband and phone customers at a brisk pace, and broke 10 million phone customers for the first time in the quarter. It's the country's fourth-largest home phone company, behind AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink.
It shares rose 82 cents, or 2 percent, to $42.12 in premarket trading. The shares are close to their all-time high of $42.61, hit a month ago.
The Philadelphia-based company earned $1.44 billion, or 54 cents per share, in the first quarter. That was up from $1.22 billion, or 45 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.
Excluding a gain of 3 cents per share due to the sale of some airwaves licenses to AT&T, earnings were 51 cents per share. That was a penny higher than the average forecast of analysts polled by FactSet.
Revenue rose 2.9 percent to $15.31 billion. Analysts were expecting half a percent more, at $15.38 billion.
Comcast's revenue didn't grow as fast as usual because it broadcast the Super Bowl last year, but didn't this year. Excluding that effect, revenue would have grown 4.7 percent, it said.
Comcast lost 60,000 cable-TV subscribers, breaking a trend of slowing losses. However, it's still better than smaller cable companies at keeping customers in the face of competition from satellite and phone companies.
At NBCUniversal, revenue fell 2.4 percent compared to last year's quarter, when NBC aired the Super Bowl. CBS aired it this year. However, NBCUniversal's operating cash flow, a measure of profitability, rose.
As of March, Comcast owns all of NBCUniversal. It bought the 49 percent it didn't own from General Electric Co. for $16.7 billion. It bought it initial stake in 2011 and was planning to buy the rest over time, but announced in January that it was buying out GE years ahead of schedule.
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