(Updates with closing share price in 10th paragraph.)
Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Comcast Corp., the largest cable company in the U.S. and owner of NBC, reported profit that topped estimates for the eighth straight quarter on gains in phone and Internet subscribers.
Net income was $1.73 billion, or 65 cents a share, surpassing the 60-cent average estimate of analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sales fell 2.4 percent to $16.2 billion. Analysts estimated $16.24 billion.
Comcast added 169,000 home-phone customers, 38 percent better than a year earlier, and 297,000 broadband subscribers, a 3.3 percent increase. The company is persuading more customers to add services to make up for a decline in video subscriptions, which dropped by 129,000 on tougher competition from new pay-TV providers such as AT&T Inc.
Comcast, based in Philadelphia, is working to keep video customers by improving its viewing offerings on popular devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPad and Google Inc.’s Android tablets. This week, the company announced an update to its application for tablets, letting customers watch as many as 35 channels live. Other pay-TV providers such as Time Warner Cable Inc. also offer such a service.
Entertainment division NBCUniversal’s sales were $5.85 billion, down 14 percent from a year earlier, when it benefited from extra viewers because of the London Olympics. Excluding the games coverage, the NBC unit’s revenue rose 3.9 percent, and its operating cash flow increased 22 percent.
Ratings gains for popular NBC shows such as “The Voice,” led to a 2.6 percent bump in broadcasting revenue to $1.64 billion, leaving out the Olympics. Cable networks, including USA and Bravo, saw a 4 percent gain to $2.24 billion.
The division’s theme parks, which include Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, reported a 7.9 percent jump in revenue to $661 million.
Comcast acquired the remainder of NBCUniversal from General Electric Co. for $16.7 billion in March.
The broadcast network’s advertising revenue dropped 45 percent to $1.1 billion after the boost last year from Olympics coverage. Advertising at the cable networks rose 4.6 percent to $835 million.
Comcast fell 1.3 percent to $47.09 at the close in New York. The stock has risen 26 percent this year.
The company repurchased $500 million of its stock in the quarter.
--Editors: Crayton Harrison, John Lear