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Comcast second-quarter profit up 29%, boosted by NBCUniversal

Comcast second-quarter profit up 29%, boosted by NBCUniversal
Comcast's Universal Pictures released "Fast & Furious 6" during the second quarter of 2013. Pictured: Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Riley (Gina Carano) in "Fast & Furious 6" (Giles Keyte)

Comcast Corp.'s second-quarter profit rose 29% with media company NBCUniversal contributing more to the bottom line than Wall Street analysts had expected.

For the quarter ended June 30, the Philadelphia cable giant earned $1.7 billion, or 65 cents a share, up from $1.3 billion in the year-earlier period. Revenue was up 7% to $16.3 billion.

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NBCUniversal generated 8.9% higher revenue, to nearly $6 billion.

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Even the NBC broadcast division, which has been something of a financial laggard, hit some high notes. Boosted by its hit singing competition show, "The Voice," network revenue was up 11.6% to $1.7 billion compared to the year-earlier period. NBC produced higher prime-time ratings, helping the network rake in 13% higher ad revenue.

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The highly profitable cable television unit, which includes USA Network, Bravo, Syfy and NBC Sports, continued as the star performer for the media company. Revenue was up 7.7% to $2.4 billion, lifted by higher distribution and advertising revenue.

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Los Angeles-headquartered Universal Pictures had a strong quarter with revenue up 12.8% to $1.4 billion.  Profits were fueled by the movie studio's muscle-bound franchise "Fast and Furious 6" as well as higher licensing revenue from films sold to international TV networks.

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Universal's current quarter, however, has been manic. The blockbuster animated film, "Despicable Me 2," blew off the barn doors this month while the studio's highly anticipated film "R.I.P.D." grabbed the dubious distinction of being one of the industry's biggest summer bombs.

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"We've had some ups and downs," Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts told analysts in a call early Wednesday morning.

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But analysts were encouraged not to despair over "R.I.P.D."

"'Despicable Me 2' is going to turn out to be the single most profitable film in the 100-plus year history of Universal Pictures," NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke said.

Meanwhile, Universal theme parks, despite higher investment costs, posted 1.1% higher revenue to $546 million for the quarter.

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