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Charter's Loss Narrows as It Adds Customers

May 08, 2003|From Bloomberg News

Charter Communications Inc., the third-largest U.S. cable operator, said Wednesday that its first-quarter loss narrowed to $181 million after adding high-speed Internet customers and stemming declines in television subscriptions.

The net loss shrank to 62 cents a share from $316 million, or $1.08 a year earlier, the company said. Revenue rose 9.7% to $1.18 billion.

Charter has slowed losses of basic cable subscribers after replacing several top executives, including its chief operating officer.

Chief Executive Carl Vogel is seeking to sell assets and reduce capital spending to cut Charter's $19 billion in debt, accumulated to upgrade its cable systems.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, rose 7.5% to $458 million in the recent quarter. On that basis, analysts had forecast profit of $462 million, according to Thomson First Call.

Cable companies prefer that investors use EBITDA to measure their financial performance because it excludes noncash costs associated with upgrading aging networks and shows how much cash the business is generating to pay back debt.

Charter shares, which have risen 67% this year, climbed 9 cents to $1.97 on Nasdaq.

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