Cablevision First-Quarter Profit Drops

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Cablevision Systems reported lower first-quarter earnings Thursday as the cable operator said it gained 7,000 video subscribers.

The firm also unveiled a new $500 million stock buyback authorization.

The company, controlled by the Dolan family, recorded a quarterly profit of $57 million, compared with $104 million in the year-ago period. One key drag on the latest figure was the spin-off of its cable networks business. The year-ago figure had included $35 million from AMC Networks, which Cablevision spun off mid-year 2011.

Revenue rose a minimal 0.2 percent to $1.66 billion. The company highlighted that it hasn't announced a price increase for this year, which kept revenue flat.

After losing video subs in the fourth quarter, Cablevision added 7,000 subs in the first quarter, including the largest quarterly increase in it score New York metro service area since the second quarter of 2008. It also added 41,800 high-speed Internet and 42,400 telephony customers.

"Cablevision has had a solid start to the year," president and CEO James Dolan said. "We have improved subscriber metrics across video, high-speed data and voice."

The Wall Street reaction to the financials was mixed. Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce cut his ratings on Cablevision shares from "buy" to "neutral" and reduced his short-term price target by $2 to $16, citing lower-than-forecast operating and free cash flow. "However, the positive surprise of video, voice and data net adds are supportive of a future financial turnaround," he said.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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