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Record sub growth pumps Comcast

NEW YORK — Comcast’s profits soared to $1.22 billion last quarter from $222 million a year earlier on record subscriber growth and a one-time gain related to the acquisition of Adelphia systems.

Excluding the gain, the nation’s largest cabler saw income jump 46% to $548 million.

The stock popped higher on the news, rising 3.20% to close at $40.

Revenue rose 22% to $6.4 billion.

Company touted its triple play of cable TV, high-speed Internet and digital telephone service, which has been buoying cable companies all year and giving them a leg up on rivals like satellite and DSL.

Comcast said customers taking all three services were paying $120-$130 a month. In September, half of all triple-play customers were new to Comcast.

“The cable business is really healthier than it’s ever been,” said CEO Brian Roberts in a conference call. “Triple play, as we’ve been saying throughout the year, stimulates higher growth rates.”

Now, the market is waiting to see how aggressively phone companies roll out video services, but most Wall Streeters feel cable has a clear edge.

Comcast added 558,000 digital subs — up 77% and a quarterly record — for a total of 12.1 million.

Cabler added only 10,000 basic subs, reaching 24 million, but reversed a slight decline last year.

Comcast hopes to eventually offer wireless service. It was part of a consortium of cablers that recently acquired an advanced wireless spectrum from the U.S. government.

“We’re going to see what consumers want, and we will explore that,” Roberts said.

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