Cablevision Loses Fewer Pay TV Subs in First Quarter, Earnings Rise

James 'Jim' Dolan CEO of Cablevision - arrives Media and Technology Conference - 2010
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James 'Jim' Dolan, president and chief executive officer of Cablevision Systems Corp., arrives for a morning session during the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference

The company, led by CEO James Dolan, is in the process of being acquired by European cable and telecom giant Altice.

Cablevision Systems on Thursday reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings and improved subscriber trends, with management touting the cable company's best first-quarter performance in subscriber relationships since 2012.

In what is likely to be the company's last earnings report before becoming part of European cable and telecom giant Altice, Cablevision said it lost 15,000 pay TV subscribers in the latest quarter, compared with a year-ago loss of 28,000 and a 10,000 loss in the fourth quarter.

The company, led by CEO James Dolan, ended March with a total of 2.59 million video subscribers and 3.12 million total customers, the number of which was up 9,000 in the latest period. Cablevision lost 8,000 telephone subscribers in the first quarter, while adding 19,000 broadband subscribers. The subscriber metrics exceeded Wall Street expectations.

Its first-quarter earnings of $94.4 million, or 34 cents per share, also beat analysts' estimates and compared with $44.6 million, or 16 cents in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 1.6 percent to $1.64 billion.

"Cablevision had an excellent first quarter," said Dolan. "The company continued to build momentum with solid improvements in service quality and subscriber growth and achieved the best first-quarter performance in customer relationships since 2012."

He also lauded the company's improved service experience, saying it reflects "the success of our management team and employees in providing the best products, services and experience to our customers."

Altice is waiting for final regulatory approval to acquire Cablevision, which focuses on the highly competitive New York market, with the companies having said they expect the deal to close in the current quarter. Dolan commented on Thursday: "We are moving full speed ahead toward the completion of our transaction with Altice and are proceeding through the regulatory process as expected."