Cablevision Surprises in Q4

Cablevision Systems reported fourth quarter results ahead of expectations, with basic video subscribers losses of 18,000 (versus consensus estimates of a loss of 29,000), and a focus on higher margin products helping to lift revenue and cash flow by 2.3% and 7.5, respectively.

Cablevision ended the period with 2.8 million video subscribers and 2.78 million high speed Internet customers, an increase of about 6,000 customers (compared to consensus estimates of a loss of 3,200 HSI customers). Phone subscribers were flat at 2.27 million.

While comparisons to last year, when Cablevision was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, which knocked out power and destroyed homes in a significant amount of its footprint, played a role in the quarter increases, the company also seems to be making progress on its initiatives to squeeze more profits out of its existing customers, growing revenue in the period by 2.3% to $1.6 billion and adjusted operating cash flow by 7.5% -- not including certain one-time items – to $456.5 million.

Average monthly revenue per subscriber rose by $6.43 (4.6%) to $147.34 and average monthly revenue per video customer was $166.66, an increase of 8.8% over the same period in the prior year.

"Cablevision made substantial headway on a number of fronts in 2013, and generated stronger financial results in the fourth quarter,” CEO James Dolan said in a statement.  “We improved the quality of our network, increased the efficiency of our operations and strengthened the company's financial profile.  Our focus on improving the customer experience resulted in the successful roll-out of new and enhanced products as well as better service for our customers.  We look forward to continuing this progress in 2014.”