Cablevision's subscriber losses mount; shares down

Reuters

(Adds EPS from continued operations, updates share movement)

By Aurindom Mukherjee

Aug 5 (Reuters) - Cablevision Systems Corp's subscriber losses doubled in the second quarter from the previous quarter as it cut down on promotions, sending its shares down as much as 7.8 percent.

The cable company has been focusing on boosting its profit by raising prices and cutting expenses - moves that have come at a cost as subscribers switch to providers offering better deals.

Most cable TV companies have lost video subscribers to satellite and telecom rivals, as well as Web-based entrants such as Netflix Inc, in the past few years.

Cablevision has the largest exposure to Verizon Communications Inc's pay TV service, which has been taking customers away from cable companies with aggressive pricing and promotions.

Cablevision said on Tuesday it lost about 28,000 video subscribers in the second quarter ended June 30. But sales rose 3.7 percent, beating the average analyst estimate.

"If you are not spending much on retention then your margin will be better - financial numbers at the expense of weaker subscribers," ISI Group analyst Vijay Jayant told Reuters.

Adjusted operating cash flow, Cablevision's most closely watched metric, rose 11 percent, while capital expenditure fell 7.5 percent.

The cable company, which is controlled by New York's Dolan Family, said average monthly cable revenue per customer increased 5.5 percent to $152.72 in the quarter.

Revenue rose to $1.63 billion from $1.57 billion a year earlier, beating the average analyst estimate of $1.60 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income attributable to the company's shareholders fell to $94.2 million, or 35 cents per share, from $135.4 million, or 51 cents per share, a year earlier.

Net income from continued operations was 34 cents per share, handily beating the average analyst estimate of 17 cents per share.

Cablevision's shares were down 7.7 percent at $17.95 - their biggest intraday percentage decline since January 2013 - in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

(Additional reporting by Subrat Patnaik; Editing by Joyjeet Das and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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