Data, telephony help boost Charter’s Q1 results

Thu, 05/07/2009 - 8:55am
Mike Robuck

While Charter Communications worked on its Chapter 11 reorganization plan (story here), the nation’s fourth-largest cable operator was able to narrow its first-quarter loss thanks to more revenues from its data and telephony services.

Charter posted a loss of $205 million, or 54 cents per share, in the first quarter, compared with a loss of $359 million, or 97 cents per share, in the same quarter in 2008.

Charter’s revenues increased 6 percent to $1.66 billion from the $1.56 billion in the first quarter of last year. Revenues from Charter’s telephony service increased 40 percent to $169 million, while data revenues spiked 10 percent to $360 million. Revenues from the company’s video services rose 1.6 percent to $872 million.

“Our results for the first quarter confirm that Charter’s operations remain strong,” said Charter CEO Neil Smit. “We are pleased to report solid growth in both revenue and adjusted EBITDA. Our organization is nimble, and we’ve adjusted to market conditions, achieving efficiencies while remaining committed to investing in new products and improving services that deliver value to our customers.”

Total average monthly revenue per basic video customer (ARPU) for the quarter increased 9.9 percent year-over-year to $110.32, driven by increased sales of the company’s bundle and advanced services growth.
Charter said revenue-generating units (RGUs) increased by 149,600 during the first quarter, driven by increased telephone and data customers. RGUs increased 4.1 percent compared with the previous quarter a year ago.

Charter added 71,900 high-speed Internet customers into the fold in the first quarter, while its data ARPU of $41.26 increased 2.5 percent compared with a year ago and the previous quarter. Charter attributed the ARPU increase to customers upgrading to higher tiers of service.

On the telephony side, Charter said 74,300 new phone customers signed on during the three-month period. Charter has a telephone penetration of 13.5 percent, with approximately 10.6 million homes passed as of March 31.

While Charter lost 22,200 basic cable TV subscribers in the first quarter, it added 25,600 digital subscribers. Video ARPU was $60.61 for the first quarter of 2009, up 5.3 percent year-over-year.

Charter said customers leasing high-definition or digital video recorder set-top boxes increased more than 30 percent year-over-year, and on-demand orders during the first quarter of this year increased nearly 40 percent compared with the year-ago quarter, driving increased video ARPU.

As of March 31, Charter served approximately 5.43 million customers, and the company’s 12.54 million RGUs comprise 5.01 million basic video subscribers; 3.16 million digital video subscribers; 2.95 million data subscribers; and 1.42 million telephone customers.

Charter, which is controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, had $21.62 billion in debt at the end of the first quarter.

“I am also pleased with the progress we have made in our financial restructuring and commend our employees for continuing to provide our customers with superior service and value throughout this process,” Smit said. “We have been working diligently to complete our financial restructuring expeditiously and look forward to emerging as a stronger company.”

More Broadband Direct 05/07/09:
•  Data, telephony help boost Charter's Q1 results
•  Cablevision thrives in Q1
•  Time Warner Cable picks OpenTV's ad management platform
•  DirecTV Group's Q1 profit falls 46%
•  Build your own hotspot with Verizon device
•  Qwest to offer free Wi-Fi
•  Cisco earnings fall 21%, beat expectations
•  SCTE announces chapter award winners for last year
•  Intel, Microsoft, Dell band together for WiGig
•  Embarq's Q1 profit falls 18%
•  More cell phone users dropping landlines
•  Broadband Briefs for 05/07/09



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