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Time Warner


posted first-quarter numbers that sailed past Wall Street estimates and reaffirmed full-year guidance.

The New York media giant earned $963 million, or 20 cents a share, in the first quarter, up from the year-ago continuing operations profit of $712 million, or 15 cents a share. Excluding latest-quarter gains, earnings were 18 cents a share, beating the Thomson First Call analyst consensus estimate by a penny.

Revenue for the quarter ended March 31 rose to $10.48 billion from $10.18 billion a year earlier, beating the $10.29 billion Wall Street estimate. Cash provided by operations totaled $1.9 billion, and free cash flow grew to $1.2 billion (reflecting a 45% conversion rate of adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization).

"Time Warner Cable's robust growth this quarter in high-speed data and digital phone subscribers, as well as its strong showing in enhanced digital video services, reinforces our confidence in the cable industry's promising future," said CEO Dick Parsons. "With our progress on these and other fronts, we've positioned Time Warner strategically, operationally and financially for sustained, superior growth and improved shareholder returns."

Cable revenue rose 10% from a year ago to $2.2 billion, as the company added 26,000 basic and 103,000 digital video subscribers. Time Warner also added 136,000 digital video recorder and 108,000 video-on-demand subscribers during the period. Big cable operators are betting that advanced services such as these will drive revenue growth in coming years as basic cable gains flatten out.

The company added 209,000 residential high-speed data subscribers and 152,000 digital phone users in the quarter.

Revenue at the America Online unit slipped 3% to $2.1 billion, as an 8% drop in subscription revenue offset a 45% gain in advertising revenue. AOL lost 549,000 subscribers in the quarter.

Movie revenue inched up 1% to $3 billion, while network revenue gained 4% to $2.3 billion. Publishing revenue rose 8% from a year earlier to $1.2 billion.

The company also reaffirmed its forecast that operating income before depreciation and amortization, or OIBDA, will rise in the high single digits percentagewise this year from last year's $9.9 billion.

Time Warner closed Tuesday at $16.68.