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With failed Comcast deal in its wake, Time Warner Cable posts record subscriber growth

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NEW YORK — Time Warner Cable had a record quarter for subscriber growth on the heels of its failed deal with Comcast and as cable TV rival Charter is expected to try to buy the company.

CEO Rob Marcus told analysts on a conference call Thursday that the company was not going to respond to questions about deal-making but that it would do what was best for shareholders.

As Time Warner Cable waited for regulators to approve or deny its Comcast deal, it invested in customer service and other areas to grow its customer base. It said Thursday that those investments are paying off.

Time Warner Cable added 30,000 home cable customers in the latest quarter, the first quarterly gain in TV customers since early 2009. CFO Arthur Minson said the company also added customers in April.

TV customers have been slipping throughout the cable and satellite TV industry as people cut expensive cable packages. More are relying on cheaper Internet services for their television fix.

Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp.'s $45 billion bid to buy Time Warner Cable Inc., joining the top two cable companies, ran afoul of regulators who were concerned about the power of the combined company to hurt online TV competitors.

The cable and satellite TV industry is starting to change as streaming video reshapes how people watch TV. Dish Network launched a Web service, Sling TV, while Verizon's FiOS is offering "skinny" bundles — slightly cheaper, customizable TV packages.

But change might not come easy. Disney's ESPN is suing Verizon over the new package, which relegates the popular sports channel to an optional channel pack.

Time Warner Cable said its traditional packages of phone, cable and Internet service are working well.

"Customers don't want to get bogged down in a lot of choices to make, there's a lot of value in our Triple Play packages right now," said Chief Operating Officer Dinesh Jain on the earnings call. "In terms of skinny packages, we don't want to be pioneers on that. If any of those things work we will be fast followers on that."

Time Warner Cable also added 315,000 Internet customers and 320,000 phone customers. It sold more Triple Play packages.

The New York-based company earned $458 million, or $1.59 per share, while revenue grew 3.5 percent to $5.78 billion

Adjusted earnings came to $1.65 per share.

Analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected profit of $1.87 per share on revenue of $5.81 billion.

Time Warner Cable shares rose 24 cents to $158.10 in morning trading Thursday. They have increased almost 12 percent in the last 12 months.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on TWC at http://www.zacks.com/ap/TWC

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Damian Troise contributed to this report.

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Follow Tali Arbel at http://twitter.com/tarbel

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