Comcast adds video subscribers, beats Street

Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:49pm EDT
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By Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - Comcast Corp, the largest U.S. cable operator, posted higher first-quarter revenue and net income on Tuesday and showed it could add video subscribers for two quarters in a row, a rare sight in the cable industry.

The company, whose shares were up 3 percent, said it added 24,000 net video subscribers in the first quarter. That surprised analysts who expected a loss of 26,000 net subscribers, according to StreetAccount. Last year's fourth quarter marked Comcast's first upswing in cable video subscribers in more than six years.

Most cable companies have been shedding video subscribers for the past few years, losing them to satellite and telecom rivals as well as newer Web-based entrants such as Netflix Inc.

"Two straight quarters of basic video subscriber gains, even small ones, isn't enough to call a reversal of perennial losses," said MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett in a research note. "But it's a start."

Comcast's high-speed Internet growth slowed in the quarter. It added 383,000 net subscribers, fewer than a year ago and missing estimates. ISI analyst Vijay Jayant called the Internet results "strong but decelerating."

Comcast's Internet business was criticized by Netflix on Monday, capping months of tussling over the speed at which Comcast delivers the online streaming service to its cable customers.


Comcast, which made a $45.3 billion bid to acquire second-largest U.S. cable operator Time Warner Cable in February, said it had $17 million in costs related to the acquisition in the quarter.   Continued...

A Comcast sign is shown on the entrance to its store in San Francisco, California February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith