Charter shares rise on Q4 forecast

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NEW YORK -- Shares of Charter Communications, the cable operator controlled by Paul Allen, rose after the firm forecast solid fourth-quarter revenue growth and a refinancing and expansion of a credit line.

St. Louis-based Charter said its preliminary numbers show that fourth-quarter revenue rose 9.8%, or 11.7% when adjusted for sold or acquired cable systems, to $1.4 billion. Full-year 2006 revenue increased 9.4%, or 10% on an adjusted basis, to about $5.5 billion.

The company said revenue growth was helped by the continued success of its bundled offers.

Adjusted operating cash flow looks to be up 7.9%, or 10.3% on an adjusted basis, in the fourth quarter, with the full year up 4.5%, or 5.3%, respectively.

Charter will report final figures, including bottom line results, on Feb. 28.

"These preliminary results reflect continued momentum in growing revenue and adjusted (operating cash flow," president and CEO Neil Smit said Friday. "We're pleased with customer acceptance as we've deployed telephone service more broadly and marketed it in attractive bundled offers with our video and high-speed Internet services."

Nonetheless, Charter lost about 43,300 basic video subscribers in the latest quarter, up from a loss of 16,700 a year ago. Digital video user additions of 40,500 compared with 49,800 in fourth-quarter 2005.

Charter also signed up 59,000 high-speed Internet customers, down from 73,800 last year, and about 106,200 telephone customers, up from 31,300 a year ago.

Charter also announced a refinancing and expansion of an existing $6.85 billion senior secured credit line of a unit via new $8.05 billion senior secured credit facilities.

Charter shares closed up 3.1% on Friday at $3.35 after going as high as $3.50 in intraday trading; it was the second-highest gainer on The Hollywood Reporter's Showbiz 50 stock index. During the past year, it has traded between 88 cents-$3.58.
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