Dish Network Corp
Shares rose 6 percent in early trading.
Analysts at Bernstein Research had forecast Dish, which has been losing subscribers in recent quarters, would lose 9,000 subscribers while analysts at Kaufman Bros had expected Dish to add 30,000.
Bernstein's Craig Moffett said Dish had managed to achieve the growth through a combination of greatly reducing the rate at which it loses subscribers and by increasing its gross additions of new customers.
Though Dish did not give a clear reason in its early statement for its one-time dividend, Moffett said it was positive for investors.
While a far cry from a recurring dividend that would clearly be better, the return of cash to shareholders is nevertheless a very welcome development, Moffett said in a note to investors.
If only because DISH has been a reported suitor for any number of acquisitions (most recently Sirius XM
But the Englewood, Colorado company posted a worse-than-expected 13 percent decline in third-quarter profit, hurt by higher costs in winning subscribers and also by legal expenses from its patent fight with TiVo Inc
Dish, which faces stiff competition from cable companies and larger satellite TV rival DirecTV Group
Excluding special items, including $132 million for TiVo litigation, the profit was 41 cents a share. That fell short of the analysts' average estimate of 43 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue fell 1.5 percent to $2.89 billion, missing the analysts' view of $2.93 billion.
Average revenue per subscriber was $69.51.
In a long-standing legal battle, TiVo is suing Dish and sister company EchoStar Corp
Dish has appealed the case, although the judge warned that the company, run by founder Charlie Ergen, could face enhanced sanctions.
Shares of Dish rose 6 percent to $20.25 in early trading on Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Franklin Paul and Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Derek Caney, Lisa Von Ahn, Dave Zimmerman)