Cablevision swings to Q4 profit

Cable operator to roll out controversial network DVR

NEW YORK -- Cable operator Cablevision Systems swung to a fourth-quarter profit on higher revenue and lower restructuring expenses and other drags on the bottom line, including a year-ago charge at newspaper Newsday.

On a conference call, COO Tom Rutledge said Cablevision plans to start rolling out its much-discussed network DVR to all households in April and expects to stop buying physical DVRs late in the year. Studios and TV networks had opposed the network DVR.

The cable company on Thursday posted a profit of $78.6 million, compared with a loss of $332.2 million in the year-ago period. For all of 2009, Cablevision recorded a profit of $285.6 million, compared with a 2008 loss of $228.1 million.

Revenue rose 5% to $2.15 billion in the quarter and 7.5% to $7.77 billion for the year.

The cable firm lost 2,800 basic cable subscribers in the latest quarter, ending 2009 with 3.06 million, but continued to add digital video, broadband and telephony customers.

Overall, revenue generating units rose 99,100 in the quarter and 297,700 for the full year 2009.

The Rainbow cable networks boosted fourth-quarter revenue 6.7%.

"Cablevision performed exceptionally well in 2009, especially considering the overall challenging economic environment," said president and CEO James Dolan.

On the conference call, management said it plans no special dividend payments, but will regularly review the size of its quarterly dividend payments.