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Cablevision Systems on Thursday reported better-than-expected third-quarter financials as it continued to lose pay TV subscribers and also lost broadband users and telephony customers for the second time in as many quarters.
The cable operator, controlled by the Dolan family, posted quarterly earnings of $71.5 million, compared with $294.6 million in the year-ago period. Excluding discontinued operations, earnings rose from $59.7 million to $71.9 million. The company previously sold Clearview Cinemas and the Bresnan cable systems, affecting the direct comparability of the quarters. Operating profit rose 12 percent to $252.4 million. Revenue of $1.63 billion was up 3.7 percent.
Cablevision lost 56,000 pay TV subscribers in the third quarter after a year-ago loss of 37,000 and a second-quarter loss of 28,000. The company ended September with 2.72 million video subscribers and 3.13 million overall subscribers. Cablevision lost 23,000 broadband and 33,000 phone customers in the latest period.
Analysts said the financials were ahead of their expectations, while the subscriber trends were below their forecasts.
“Cablevision’s third-quarter results reflect a continuation of the strong financial performance that we delivered in the first half of the year,” said CEO James Dolan. “Looking ahead, we will continue to improve our products and services while remaining focused on enhancing shareholder value.”
Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker lauded the “really nice” financials, but also highlighted “weak subs.” She said: “Clearly, Cablevision is focusing more on financials than gaining market share — but we also realize this tends to be Cablevision’s weakest sub quarter from a seasonal perspective.”
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