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Liberty Global shares rise after 1Q earns in line

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Shares of Liberty Global Inc. rose Tuesday after the international pay TV operator controlled by billionaire John Malone posted first-quarter earnings that were in line with analyst expectations, and it said its acquisition of Virgin Media was on track to be completed by the second quarter.

The company said late Monday that its net loss in the three months ended March 31 fell to $1 million, or breakeven per share, from a loss of $25.1 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 9 percent to $2.77 billion.

Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne said in a research note following the release that the results were "broadly in-line."

Shares gained $2.83, or 3.8 percent, to end at $78.01 Tuesday. Shares touched an all-time high of $78.19 during the session.

Liberty Global said in February that it had agreed to acquire Virgin Media for $17.50 in cash, 0.2582 Liberty Global Series A shares and 0.1928 Liberty Global Series C shares for every Virgin Media share.

Malone controls Liberty Global through super-voting Series B shares, of which he controls 86 percent.

The deal valued the equity in Virgin Media at $16 billion. Virgin Media has 25 million customers in 14 countries. Liberty Global ended the quarter with 19.7 million customers in 13 countries.

Morgan Stanley's Swinburne said in his research note that he expects the acquisition to add more than 10 percent to Liberty Global's free cash flow.