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Time Warner Cable warns on profit margins

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Time Warner Cable Inc. fell sharply Thursday after the company warned that profits would be slimmer than expected this year.

The stock of the country's second-largest cable company fell $10.41, or 10.3 percent, to $90.29 in afternoon trading. It was the lowest level for the shares since November. A week ago, the shares hit $102, the highest level since the split from parent company Time Warner Inc. was completed in 2009.

The New York-based company said its 2013 operating income margin would be down between 0.5 percent and 1 percent from last year because of higher programming costs.

"Sports programming costs continue to weigh on margins for cable operators in general," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher King.

Time Warner Cable said its net income was $513 million, or $1.68 a share, in the October to December period, down 9 percent from $564 million, or $1.75 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Time Warner Cable earned $1.57 per share. That was up 14 percent from a year ago and beat the average estimate of analysts surveyed by FactSet by a penny.

Revenue rose 9.9 percent to $5.49 billion. That was slightly below expectations of $5.55 billion.

Excluding the acquisitions of a series of smaller cable companies in the last year, revenue would have risen about 4 percent, chiefly because of increasing revenue from broadband.

The company lost a net 129,000 cable TV customers in the quarter, to end with 12.03 million. Cable TV subscriptions have been declining across the industry for years, as viewers shift to satellite and phone-company TV services.