Comcast Corp.'s first-quarter earnings jumped nearly 30% as more customers signed up for high-speed Internet service. The Philadelphia cable giant also showed revenue growth in some unexpected units: its long-lagging NBC network and Universal Pictures.
For the quarter that ended March 31, the company's net income grew to $1.22 billion, or 45 cents a share, from $943 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier. Comcast — which generated consolidated revenue of $14.88 billion, an increase of 23% — beat analysts' estimates.
Comcast's cable group generated $9.6 billion in revenue, a 5.7% increase. Revenue from high-speed Internet service jumped 10%, in part the result of 439,000 new subscribers. NBCUniversal revenue was up 18% to $5.5 billion, partly from $259 million in Super Bowl advertising revenue.
Operating cash flow at NBCUniversal was $813 million, up 34.3% from the first quarter of 2011, which contained $92 million in costs related to winning federal government approval for Comcast's takeover of NBCUniversal.
NBCUniversal cable networks generated $2.1 billion in revenue versus $2 billion in the year-earlier period. Operating cash flow decreased 1.4% to $805 million from $817 million a year earlier. The drag came from higher programming and production costs, some related to the NBA lockout and a shift in the number of basketball games televised in the first quarter.
The NBC broadcast unit pulled in $1.85 billion in revenue, including Super Bowl ad sales, compared with $1.35 billion a year earlier, but had an operating loss of $10 million because of higher programming and marketing costs.
Universal Pictures performed well during the quarter with revenue topping $1.19 billion, compared with $975 million in the first quarter of 2011. Box-office receipts from "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" and "Safe House" lifted the division, which contributed $6 million in profit, well up from the $146 million loss taken in the year-earlier period.
Theme parks generated $412 million, up from $390 million. The unit contributed $157 million in operating cash, up from $134 million a year earlier.