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Trading of Cablevision, TWC, halted on merger rumor activity

Fri, 08/02/2013 - 1:26pm
Brian Santo

With consolidation rumors seemingly out of control, the Nasdaq stock exchange briefly suspended trading on Time Warner Cable (TWC), while a rapid rise on Cablevision Systems triggered a brief halt of trading on the NYSE Friday.

The heightened level of trading occurred after earnings were by Cablevision one of biggest companies involved in the merger rumors.

Yesterday TWC CEO Glenn Britt and COO Rob Marcus both declined to directly answer questions about potential mergers, leaving open the possibility of a combination; their comments were during a conference call discussing the company’s second quarter earnings. Various sources reported that Charter Communications, encouraged by new investor Liberty Media, had broached the subject of a merger with TWC, but TWC did not find the proposed deal worthwhile.  

That leads into the latest unconfirmed rumor, conveyed by Bloomberg News, that Charter is now discussing a merger with Cox Communications. TWC stocks fell on that news.

Cablevision has been involved in the consolidation rumors inasmuch as it is considered a good fit with Time Warner Cable. Cablevision, earlier today in its Q2 conference call with analysts, indicated it too is open to consolidation.

Cablevision investors appeared to be betting that the company, which has made clear that it's not interested in being the acquirer, may become an acquisition target.

Between Cablevision stock being run up and TWC’s being run down, both largely on rumor, trading in both companies became wild enough for Nasdaq to briefly halt trading.

Cablevision Systems doubled its earnings in the second quarter. It posted net income of $135.4 million, in the April to June period. That compares with net income of $63.5 million in the same period a year earlier. Cablevision's net income was 11 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet were on average expecting earnings of 4 cents per share on that basis.

Revenue fell 8 percent to $1.57 billion due to the asset sales. When excluding the sold-off assets from year-ago figures, however, revenue rose 0.8 percent.

Excluding Bresnan, Cablevision lost 20,000 pay-TV subscribers in the quarter, to end at 2.87 million. It added 1,000 broadband subscribers and 3,000 voice over IP (VoIP) customers.

During the quarter, the company sold both its Optimum West operation (formerly Bresnan Communications) to Charter, and its movie theater chain.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this article.
This article was edited to correct information about Cablevision's second quarter. - .ed

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