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Comcast 2Q earnings top views on Internet hookups

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Comcast Corp.'s second-quarter net income rose 15 percent to nearly $2 billion as it added high-speed Internet customers at a faster pace than a year ago and video subscriber losses moderated. Its adjusted earnings topped Wall Street estimates, and Comcast shares rose in early premarket trading. The nation's largest cable provider said Tuesday that net income rose to $1.99 billion, or 76 cents per share. Excluding a gain on its sale of a stake in set-top box maker Arris Group Inc. and other items, Comcast posted adjusted earnings of 75 cents per share, beating the 72 cents expected by analysts polled by FactSet. Revenue grew nearly 4 percent to $16.84 billion, short of the $16.95 billion expected by analysts. Cable hookup revenue, up 5 percent at $11.03 billion, was slightly better than expected, but NBCUniversal revenue, flat at $6.02 billion, was less than analysts predicted. The company — in the midst of a regulatory review of its purchase of No. 2 cable company Time Warner Cable Inc. — said it added a net 203,000 Internet customers compared to the first quarter, giving it 21.3 million. That's 8 percent more than it added in the same quarter a year ago. It lost 144,000 video customers, ending up with 22.5 million. The video losses broke two quarters of gains, but the company said it was largely due to the seasonal pattern of college students leaving school and vacationers from Canada disconnecting before heading back up north. The losses were not as bad as the 162,000 it lost in the same period a year ago. Comcast said its average customer bill rose 4.5 percent to $137.24 per month, partly due to a 2 percent price hike at the beginning of the year, and partly because customers added more services and business client revenues rose. At NBCUniversal, advertising revenue fell 2 percent to $2.19 billion. The talent show "The Voice" aired earlier than usual in the season to benefit from following the Winter Olympics, which reduced the number of hours it was on in the second quarter. The results were also impacted by Comcast's decision to close down Style Network and to switch the results of the Fandango movie ticket website to its film segment. Film revenue fell 15 percent to $1.18 billion, but operating profits rose compared to a year ago when it spent heavy marketing dollars launching blockbusters "Fast & Furious 6" and "Despicable Me 2." As a company overall, free cash flow fell 41 percent to $1.16 billion, as it spent money shipping more latest-generation X1 set-top boxes and as it prepared for a big box office year in 2015 with films like "Jurassic World," ''Ted 2," and "Fifty Shades of Grey." Comcast shares rose $1.14, or 2.1 percent, to $54.96 in premarket trading more than two hours ahead of the market open.

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