Residential video and broadband subscriber metrics at Altice USA were basically in line with analysts expectations in Q1, while the company managed to squeeze out 1.2% revenue and 4.2% cash flow growth in the period.
Altice USA added about 12,000 broadband customers in Q1, slightly less than the 13,000 some analysts predicted. The company shed about 54,000 video customers in the quarter, compared to the 56,000 losses predicted by some analysts. Overall revenue was up 1.2% to $2.5 billion and cash flow grew a healthy 4.2% to $1.1 billion.
The subscriber growth was behind last year, when the pandemic was at its height and stay-at-home orders drove record growth in broadband. For Altice USA, one of the most heavily penetrated cable operators in the country, it added about 142,000 broadband customers in 2020 and lost about 237,000 video subscribers for the full year.
Analysts have been expecting growth to slow down this year after last year’s gains. In a research note, Wells Fargo media analyst Steven Cahall wrote that he expected broadband growth to be the big story for Altice USA during the quarter and the year.
“The company will have to prove that it can continue to grow organically for investors to fully back the capital return story,” Cahall wrote. “If growth is tracking well then [Altice USA] is a [free cash flow] narrative at a 12% [free cash flow] yield. If growth stalls then that becomes the narrative.”
In a press release, Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei said he was pleased with the results, which he added, position it well for the rest of the year.
“We continue to see increased demand for broadband and higher speeds as we accelerate our best-in-class network performance through our investments in fiber and enhance our product offerings,” Goei said in the press release. “Our team's ongoing commitment to serving our customers continues to be reflected by our strong broadband customer results and financials in the quarter. Furthermore, we delivered best-ever first quarter free cash flow performance, supporting an incremental $523 million in share repurchases. Earlier this month we closed our Morris Broadband acquisition, and we continue to look for opportunities to expand our footprint to complement our numerous organic growth opportunities, including accelerated new builds and fiber upgrades."
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Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.