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Charter sees $1.2 B loss in 2001, subs and revenue up

Sun, 02/10/2002 - 7:00pm
Anne Kerven

Converting its 145,000 ExciteAtHome customers to its own network cost Charter Communications $17.6 million in special charges, and the cableco posted a $1.2 billion net loss, or $4.37 a share, for the year, but revenue and subscriptions were up for 2001 and Q4.

The company weighed in on its 2001 results, ended Dec. 31, with about 7 million basic cable TV customers — up from 6.4 million in 2000. Homes passed by cable TV rose from 10.2 million in 2000 to 11.5 million in 2001, but basic cable TV market penetration fell to 60.5 percent from 62.1 percent in 2000. Charter's average monthly revenue per basic customer was up from $46.92 a year ago to $53.07 in 2001.

Charter's digital video business ended up roughly doubling its customers, from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2001. It finished the year passing 10.6 million homes, up from 8.8 million a year ago. Penetration of digital video rose from 12.2 percent a year ago to 20.2 percent in 2001, while penetration of basic customers for the unit jumped from 16.8 percent to 30.8 percent, along with an increase in digital converters deployed, which more than doubled from 1.3 million in 2000 to about 3 million in 2001.

For the quarter, Charter's digital cable additions averaged about 15,000 installations per week.

Charter's data services unit nearly tripled its customers, to 607,700 in 2001from 215,900 in 2000. Dial-up customers rose only slightly to 37,100 in 2001 from 36,500 in 2000, for a total of 644,800 total data customers in 2001, compared with 252,400 a year ago. Service is now available to 7.6 million homes, compared with 5.6 million a year ago, and penetration doubled to 8.5 percent from 4.5 percent in 2000.

Charter posted net losses of $1.2 billion, or $4.37 a share, for the year, and a net loss of $305. 7 million, or $1.04 a share, for the quarter.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 13.6 percent to $1.1 billion, compared with a pro forma $974.1 million for the same period a year ago. Full-year pro forma revenue topped $4.1 billion, up 14 percent from a pro forma $3.6 billion last year. Pro forma revenue includes such special charges as $17.6 million from Charter's conversion of customers to its own network, following ExciteAtHome's announcement it would shut down its networks at the end of this month.

For 2002, Charter expects revenue to grow between 12 percent and 14 percent, compared to its 2001 pro forma results, and operating cash flow will grow somewhere in the 11 percent to 13 percent range, it says.

Plans call for about 1.1 million to 1.2 million new basic, digital and cable modem customers for the year.

Other highlights: Charter plans to add 550,000 to 600,000 digital cable customers; up cable modem marketing efforts as it upgrades more plant miles to two-way interactivity; and add 550,000 to 600,000 Charter Pipeline customers, it says. Charter plans to launch VOD in 17 more markets, ending 2002 with VOD technology accessible to about half of its digital customers.

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