Comcast

(CMCSA) - Get Report

posted strong first-quarter numbers and guided toward more-robust cash-flow growth.

For the quarter ended March 31, the Philadelphia-based cable system operator earned $313 million, or 14 cents a share, up from the year-ago $65 million, or 3 cents a share. Revenue rose to $5.36 billion from $4.91 billion a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had forecast a 10-cent profit on sales of $5.37 billion.

"Our strategy of differentiating our products by adding valuable features is showing continued positive results with robust Comcast Digital Cable and Comcast High-Speed Internet net additions," said CEO Brian Roberts. "We are striking the right balance with our focus on customer growth and profitability."

Comcast, whose shares have been flat for about 18 months in spite of the company's generally solid numbers, also said it would buy back an additional $2 billion of its own stock. Since December 2003, Comcast has repurchased $1.7 billion of its stock.

In the latest quarter, operating income rose 31% from a year ago to $866 million and operating cash flow rose 17% to $2 billion.

Cable revenue rose 9.7% from a year earlier to $5.1 billion, with Comcast Cable adding 200,000 digital customers and losing 29,000 basic customers. Pay-per-view revenue rose 18%. The company deployed 428,000 advanced set-top boxes during the quarter with high-definition or video recording capability.

High-speed Internet revenue surged 33% to $925 million, as the company added 414,000 fast Net users. Ad revenue rose 10% and cable phone revenue dropped 3%.

Comcast reaffirmed guidance but said it expected strong demand for HDTV/DVR boxes to add to capital spending and push cash flow growth up into the midteens percentagewise.

Comcast closed Wednesday at $31.92.