Charter Communications, which announced last month that it will file for a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 1 (story here), said today that its fourth-quarter loss increased over the same quarter a year ago.

Charter, the nation’s fourth-largest cable operator that is largely owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, also said in its earnings report that subsidiary CCHH II LLC won’t make a scheduled interest payment on a portion of its debt.

For the quarter that ended Dec. 31, Charter’s loss increased to $1.5 billion, or $3.96 per share, compared with a loss of $468 million, or $1.27 per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Charter’s revenues were negatively impacted by a $1.52 billion impairment charge.

On the plus side, Charter said its sales increased 6.6 percent to $1.66 billion, from $1.55 billion. Charter cited more customers signing up for bundled services as one of the reasons for the increased revenue.

Charter’s revenue-generating units (RGUs) increased 5.5 percent, with 650,900 net additions during 2008, including 45,300 during the fourth quarter.

“We are pleased with our operational results, which are consistent with the preliminary results we reported last month,” said Charter President and CEO Neil Smit. “Our success in growing the bundle, even in a challenging economic environment, demonstrates our competitive position in this industry. We will continue to focus on increasing penetration of our triple-play offering and enhancing our customers’ overall experience today and going forward.”

Charter said 53 percent of its customer base subscribed to a bundle, which was up from 47 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007. Charter’s pro forma average monthly revenue per basic video customer for the fourth quarter of 2008 was $108.27, an increase of 10.2 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2007, which Charter said was primarily a result of higher bundled penetration and an increase in advanced services.

In the fourth quarter, Charter’s digital video customers increased by approximately 22,300, while basic video customers decreased by 75,100. Video ARPU was $59.15 for the fourth quarter of 2008, up 5.3 percent year-over-year.
Fourth quarter 2008 net gains for high-speed Internet were approximately 22,900, compared with a net gain of approximately 50,500 in the fourth quarter of 2007.
On the telephony side, Charter added 75,200 subscribers, compared with a net gain of approximately 155,300 in the fourth quarter of 2007. Telephone penetration is now 12.9 percent of the approximately 10.4 million telephone homes passed as of Dec. 31.

At the end of the fourth quarter, Charter served approximately 5.45 million customers, and the company’s approximately 12.4 million RGUs comprise about 5.05 million basic video, 3.13 million digital video, 2.88 million data and 1.35 million telephone customers.

Charter’s full-year sales increased to $6.48 billion, which was a 7.9 percent increase from the $6 billion it posted in 2007.

For the year, Charter had a loss of $2.45 billion, or $6.56 per share, compared with a loss of $1.62 billion, or $4.39 per share, in 2007.

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