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Cablevision First-Quarter Financials Rise, Video Subs Drop

James 'Jim' Dolan CEO of Cablevision
Matthew Staver/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The cable company said it remains on track for its planned spin-off of cable networks unit Rainbow under the new name AMC Networks.

NEW YORK - Cablevision Systems posted higher first-quarter profit and revenue on Thursday, but said it lost 8,000 video subscribers.

It also raised its quarterly dividend from 12.5 cents per share to 15 cents.

The cable company, controlled by the Dolan family, reported quarterly earnings of $104.1 million, compared with $74.2 million in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 9.7 percent to more than $1.9 billion, or 3.1 percent when excluding a recent acquisition of cable systems.

In the company's cable networks division Rainbow Media, which the firm plans to spin off under the name AMC Networks around mid-year, revenue climbed 9.9 percent to $272.9 million, including a 14.9 percent advertising revenue improvement. Operating profit rose 14.8 percent to $70.7 million. The unit includes such networks as AMC and IFC.

Cablevision's first-quarter results included the December acquisition of smaller cable operator Bresnan Communications and $8 million in transaction costs related to the planned Rainbow separation.

In the year-ago period, Cablevision reported a slight increase in basic video subscribers. For the latest period, it said video subscribers declined by 8,000. In the fourth quarter, the company had lost more customers amid a carriage dispute with Fox. The company continued to add broadband and telephony customers in the latest quarter. COO Tom Rutledge said some of the latest quarter's subscriber declines were still due to the Fox dispute, but the main driver is continued "softness in the economy," which is affecting the firm's performance in lower-income neighborhoods.

President and CEO James Dolan on Thursday said "we remain on track with our planned spin-off of Rainbow, which we continue to believe will also be beneficial for shareholders."

Rutledge also briefly commented on Cablevision's iPad app that offers its subscribers TV viewing on the iPad, reiterating that the company is focused on in-home viewing with the app. He said the firm currently has no plans to make TV viewing via the app available outside of the home as Cablevision would need to get the rights to do so in new agreements with networks.
 

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai