Charter gains on better-than-expected results

Sun, 04/28/2002 - 8:00pm

The Street has something to smile about. Charter Communications Inc. beat analysts' consensus first-quarter loss estimates by several cents. The news gave Charter's stock a lift in early trading today.

The cabler lost $174.2 million, or 59 cents a share, which was ahead of analysts' on average loss estimate of 74 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. In Q1 2001, Charter posted a loss of $280.7 million, or $1.20 a share. On a year-over-year basis, revenue increased 13 percent to $1.1 billion.

As of 11:37 a.m. EDT, Charter shares were up 10 percent to $8.50.

During the quarter, Charter added 140,000 cable modem customers. Digital customers totaled 2.2 million, up from 1.45 million in the year-ago period. Digital customers account for roughly one-third of the company's 6.8 million subscribers. Charter's operating expenses rose 30 percent during the quarter, as the company continues the task of upgrading its cable systems.

Looking ahead to the second quarter, Charter expects to report revenue of $1.15 billion and $1.16 billion. Between 275,000 and 300,000 revenue-generating units - including basic, digital and cable modem customers - will be added during Q2, Charter says. Full-year 2002 is forecasted to be as high as $4.7 billion. By the end of the year, the cable operator expects half of its digital customers will have access to video-on-demand technology.

On Friday, Charter announced it had inked a deal with Concurrent Computer Corp. as its second source for VOD servers and software. Concurrent said Charter will use its MediaHawk VOD system in "several markets this year."


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