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Profits soar 22% at Time Warner Cable

Time Warner Cable Inc. booked a 22 percent jump in fourth-quarter profits Thursday as it enticed more customers to upgrade to pricier bundles of cable, Internet and phone service. It also was feeling confident enough to boost its dividend payout 20 percent.

The company's stock jumped $1.17, or 1.7 percent, to $69.25 Thursday.

Still, the country's second largest cable company lost another 141,000 cable TV subscribers, its second-biggest quarterly loss ever. Growth came instead from its high-speed Internet and phone businesses. The company added 94,000 Internet customers and 72,000 phone customers. That's likely to fuel speculation that video on the Web has begun to encroach on the cable industry.

TV executives have dismissed the idea that viewers are abandoning cable. But an ever increasing number of options for watching TV online -- Hulu, Netflix and the like -- have made the idea of so-called cord cutting more thinkable. Netflix Inc., which continues to make more TV shows and movies available for streaming over the Web, added 3.1 million customers in the fourth quarter.

CEO Glenn Britt said Time Warner Cable is moving to heighten the appeal of cable, adding more high-definition channels and expanding the selection of on-demand movies and shows. He also predicted that over the long term, customers will be able to bypass the nuisance of set-top boxes as TV sets become more sophisticated.

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