Comcast Profit Triples On Strong Subscriber Growth; Declares Stock Split

Comcast, the leading U.S. cable operator, posted higher quarterly profit and revenue, helped by strong growth in subscribers across its video, phone and high speed Internet services.

Net income tripled to $390 million, or 18 cents a share, from $133 million, or 6 cents a share a year earlier.

On average, analysts expected Comcast to earn 24 cents a share, Thomson Financial said.

Revenue rose 30% from a year ago to $7.03 billion.

Comcast posted its strongest growth in basic video subscribers in 10 years, adding 110,000 new customers or nearly four times the additions a year ago.

The cable operator also said it signed up 613,000 digital video subscribers and added a net 508,000 digital phone customers, and 488,000 high speed Internet subscribers.

The additions beat the forecasts of Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett n all categories except for phone. He had forecast basic cable additions of 54,000, digital video additions of 465,000, digital phone additions of 546,000, and high-speed Internet additions of 462,000.

Comcast forecast revenue growth of at least 11% in 2007. It expects cable revenue growth of at least 12% and said it will add at least 6.5 million new revenue generating units, or RGUs, which is the number of individual products it sells to subscribers.

In an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box," Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Roberts attributed the strong growth to its "Triple Play" promotion that bundles video, high-speed Internet and phone services together for customers.

The number of subscribers joining due to the promotion was 50% higher than the company had estimated at the start of the year, Roberts said.

"People like buying the bundle," he said. They like "having one company who comes and services you, who can deal with it on one bill, and give you a great value."

For 2007, Roberts said he expects Comcast can sell 30% more RGUs than it did in 2006.

Comcast also said it approved a three-for-two stock split in the form of a 50% stock dividend payable on Feb. 21.

Comcast's share price has risen more than 70% since the start of 2006, leading a broad upturn for cable stocks.