Despite bankruptcy, Charter posts strong results

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Posted by on May 08, 2009 at 18:18:51:

In Reply to: Court approves Charter bankruptcy plan posted by on May 06, 2009 at 08:16:38:

Despite bankruptcy, Charter posts strong results
Jeff Richgels May 8, 2009

Madison area cable provider Charter Communications, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reported a surprisingly strong first quarter, with revenues up 6.5 percent and cash flow rising 13.2, fueled by growth in high-speed Internet and telephone subscribers, reported.

Basic video customers declined by 22,000 in the period, but high-speed Internet subscribers rose by 71,900 and phone customers increased by 74,300, outpacing most analyst estimates, reported.

Charter's results were slightly ahead of its larger peers - earlier Time Warner Cable reported 4.9 percent revenue and 7.5 percent cash flow growth and Comcast tallied 5.3 percent revenue and 8 percent cash flow growth in the first quarter, reported.

"Our organization is nimble, and we've adjusted to market conditions, achieving efficiencies while remaining committed to investing in new products and improving service that deliver value to our customers," Charter CEO Neil Smit said in a statement.

Meanwhile, DirecTV added 460,000 net new subscribers in the first quarter, its best quarter since 2004, thanks to promotional offerings, its re-seller agreement with AT&T and a boost from the digital broadcast TV transition, reported.

The No. 1 satellite TV provider's customer churn for the period, at 1.3 percent, was at its lowest level in 10 years, reported.

DirecTV did report a 46 percent decline in profit to $201 million, or 20 cents a share, compared to $371 million, or 32 cents, a year earlier.

The recession was largely to blame: The company increased promotions and customers pared their spending for premium channels and pay-per-view.

Elsewhere in the tech world, satellite radio took a hit in the first quarter, as the slump in the U.S. auto industry helped send Sirius XM Radio to a loss of $236.6 million and its first-ever quarterly decline in net subscriber additions, reported.

In the quarter, Sirius lost over 404,400 net subscribers, compared with a gain of nearly 626,000 a year ago. It ended the quarter with 18.6 million subscribers, down from 19 million from the end of 2008 and up from 18 million in the first quarter of 2008.

"All of this is out of our control," Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin said. "We're not in the business of selling the cars."

He said about three-quarters of Sirius' subscriber gains, before cancellations, come from auto manufacturers. Karmazin also noted that Sirius signed a new contact with General Motors Corp. that extends their relationship until 2020, including "very improved economics" for the satellite radio company.

Sirius said it has enough access to financing and cash generated from operations to meet its debt obligations this year and in 2010.

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