Cablevision posts 3Q loss on programming, debt

Cablevision posts third-quarter loss on higher programming costs and debt refinancing

Associated Press

BETHPAGE, N.Y. (AP) -- Cablevision Systems Corp., a cable company serving mainly the New York area, on Tuesday posted a quarterly loss for the first time in more than three years, as cable programming expenses rose and it took charges for debt refinancing.

The company is struggling with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. More than half a million of its customers have no power, CEO James Dolan said Tuesday.

Dolan couldn't yet say what the storm would cost the company. Last year, it booked a charge of $16 million for the damage caused by Hurricane Irene, which had much less impact.

The Bethpage, N.Y.-based company lost $3.8 million, or 1 cent per share, in the July to September period. It had reported net income of $39.3 million, or 14 cents per share, for the period last year.

Revenue was $1.69 billion, up 1.2 percent from last year. It matched the average forecast of analysts polled by FactSet.

Cablevision lost 10,000 TV subscribers in the quarter. That was fewer than the 19,000 it lost in the same quarter last year — a typical figure for the company, which like other cable companies have been losing customers to satellite TV services for years, and more recently to phone companies like Verizon, which offer their own TV services.

But Cablevision has tried hard to turn that tide, by curbing price increases. In the first quarter of this year, it added 7,000 subscribers, then neither gained nor lost any in the second quarter.

Cablevision ended the third quarter with 3.25 million TV customers, making it the country's fifth-largest cable company.

Cablevision shares fell $1.03, or 6.2 percent, to $15.50 in afternoon trading Tuesday. Shares are off about 28 percent over the past year, but have gained nearly 20 percent in the past three months.

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