By Liana B. Baker
(Reuters) - Comcast Corp , the largest U.S. cable operator, posted higher first-quarter revenue and net income on Tuesday showing it could add video subscribers for two quarters in a row, a rare sight in the cable industry.
On the cable side, Comcast added 24,000 net video subscribers in the first quarter, which surprised Wall Street analysts who expected a loss of 26,000 net subscribers, according to StreetAccount. Last year's fourth quarter saw the first cable video subscriber gain in more than six years for Comcast.
Comcast's high speed Internet growth slowed in the quarter. It added 383,000 net subscribers, fewer than a year ago and missing estimates.
Comcast's Internet business became the target of Netflix criticism on Monday, the culmination of months of tussling over the speed Comcast delivers the online streaming service to its cable customers.
Comcast, which made a $45.3 billion bid to acquire the 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.
It is waiting for approval from U.S. regulators on that deal.
Comcast's free cash flow declined 10 percent in the quarter to $2.8 billion because of an increase in working capital related to the Olympics and TV and film production.
The Sochi Olympics, which aired in February, generated more than $1.1 billion in revenue in the quarter, Comcast said. This helped boost revenue at the NBC broadcast network by 73 percent to $2.6 billion.
Comcast reported net income of $1.87 billion, or 71 cents per share, compared with $1.44 billion, or 54 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding items such as a sale of an investment in the quarter, EPS was 68 cents, which beat analysts' estimates by four cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 14 percent to $17.41 billion from $15.31 billion. Analysts on average expecting $17.04 billion.
Comcast shares were up 1 pct in premarket trading at $50.40 per share.
(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Sofina Mirza-Reid)