Copyright 2003, Inc.

May 7, 2003 Wednesday 9:19 AM Eastern Time

Charter Communications (CHTR:Nasdaq) posted solid first-quarter results Wednesday, narrowing its loss and hitting Wall Street's revenue target while exceeding EBITDA guidance.

For the quarter ended March 31, the St. Louis-based cable operator lost $182 million, or 62 cents a share, down from $317 million, or $1.08 a share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 10% to $1.18 billion from $1.07 billion a year ago, putting the latest period in line with the Thomson First Call analyst estimate.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, considered a key gauge of cable sector health, jumped 7.5% from a year earlier to $458 million. The analyst forecast had called for essentially flat EBITDA at Charter in the first quarter.

Charter said it lost 31,700 digital customers during the quarter but saw a 2% rise in the average revenue for digital service. The company attributed the changes to its strategy of focusing on customers who are more likely to buy higher revenue and margin products, a plan to repackage some digital service offerings and the discontinuance of its transitional satellite service.

Charter shares, which have nearly doubled this spring as the company shows financial improvement and regroups from a near-death experience brought on by its massive debt load, closed Tuesday at $1.88. The company will hold an 11 a.m. EDT conference call to discuss the results.