Altice USA said it lost about 4,300 broadband customers in Q4, a big change from the pandemic-fueled growth of the first three quarters of the year, but including customers that stayed on as part of the federal Keep America Connected pledge it gained about 9,000 high-speed data customers. Add in customers that disconnected temporarily due to three hurricanes that hit its service territory during the period and the gain increases to about 14,000 data subscribers.
Investors weren’t as forgiving, driving down Altice USA shares by about 7% ($280 each) to $35 per share in after-hours trading Tuesday.
At a gain of 14,000, Altice USA doubled the 7,000 broadband customers it added in the same period in 2019, but fell short of some analysts expectations who predicted it would add about 15,000 customers in the quarter. For the full year, Altice gained 142,000 broadband customers, twice its 72,000 additions in 2019 and its best year since Altice USA’s inception in 2015.
Residential video losses at 74,000 were above analysts expectations of 50,000 in losses and Q4 2019 losses of 44,000 video customers.
Revenue in the period was up 2.5% to $2.54 billion and cash flow increased 6% to $1.5 billion. For the full year, revenue increased 1.4% to $9.89 billion while cash flow rose 3.5% to $4.4 billion.
“Our team's unrelenting focus on serving both our customers and broader community has allowed us to achieve spectacular results in a number of areas, including record broadband customer gains, solid revenue growth, best-ever Adjusted EBITDA margins and highest-ever annual Free Cash Flow,” Altice USA CEo Dexter Goei said in a press release. “We also returned $4.8 billion to shareholders for the full year through share repurchases. I am pleased to cap off a tremendous 2020 with yet another strong quarter, which makes us well-positioned for 2021."
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