This morning’s news could shift Time Warner Cable shares out of neutral. In addition to the stock buyback and 17% dividend increase, to 56 cents a share per quarter, the No. 2 cable company reported strong 4Q earnings based mostly on growing broadband sales. The company generated $564M in net income, up 43.9% vs the last quarter in 2010, on revenues of nearly $5B, up 4%. The revenue figure matched analyst expectations. Earnings excluding unusual items, at $1.39 a share, beat the $1.20 that the Street forecast. Time Warner Cable also attracted more subs than many analysts anticipated, even though it lost 129,000 video customers dropping the total to 11.89M. That was offset by a 117,000 increase in broadband customers, to nearly 10M, and 37,000 additional phone customers, to 4.5M. The results follow a 12-month period during which Time Warner Cable shares only appreciated 2.7% — due in part to investor concerns that pay TV companies will be squeezed by rising programming costs and consumer cord cutting. But CEO Glenn Britt says that he has “a full slate of strategic and operational initiatives planned for the year ahead, all designed to generate strong cash flow, enable future growth and provide attractive returns to shareholders.” He added that the stock repurchase and dividend increase illustrate that Time Warner Cable can provide investors with cash even as “we continue to invest in the long-term growth of our business.”
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