More evidence that cable is resistant to recession: Cablevision Systems did alright in its first quarter.
Overall sales were up 10.6 percent from a year ago, to $1.9 billion, and the company reported a profit of $20.2 million, or 7 cents per share, compared with a loss of $31.6 million, or 11 cents per share, in the first quarter a year ago.
The newly purchased Newsday newspaper turned in a loss of $7.2 million, as did Madison Square Garden. Cablevision's chief operating officer, Tom Rutledge, said the company plans to charge customers for online access to Newsday.
The company said it is investigating spinning off Madison Square Garden, which includes not only the physical venue, but also several sports teams, including the New York Knicks and New York Rangers. The move would let investors buy shares of Madison Square Garden separately from the rest of Cablevision.
"While we are off to a good start for the year, we remain cautious given the current economic conditions," Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan said in a conference call with analysts.
Cablevision added 84,000 revenue-generating units in the quarter. The company lost 6,300 basic video subscribers but gained 9,400 digital customers. High-speed data customers increased by 29,800, and the company’s VoIP customer tally was up 51,400.
Free cash flow more than doubled in the quarter to $170.3 million, and the average monthly revenue per subscriber rose 5.4 percent to $136.55, among the highest in the cable industry.
Cablevision's revenue for cable TV, Internet and phone services rose 5.3 percent to $1.33 billion in the quarter, and operating income was up 14 percent to $294 million.
Optimum Lightpath’s net revenue grew 8 percent in the first quarter.
– The Associated Press’ Deborah Yao and Rachel Metz contributed to this report