Charter Communications gained about 190,000 broadband customers in Q4, short of analysts’ consensus estimates of about 210,000 additions, but wireless well exceeded expectations, adding 380,000 customers for its best fourth quarter yet.
Charter’s results were in line with its closest competitor, No. 1 cable operator Comcast, which said yesterday it added 212,000 broadband subscribers in Q4. And while analysts were expecting Comcast’s additions to slow — it said so back in December — some believed Charter, which hadn’t offered Q4 guidance prior to Friday’s release, might do better. That wasn’t to be.
“Recall that while Comcast had officially lowered the Street during the December conference season, Charter had not,” Wells Fargo Securities media analyst Steven Cahall wrote in a note to clients. “As such, it remained possible their trends would diverge, but it appears that Comcast Cable and Charter remain highly correlated from a net add perspective.”
For the full year, Charter added 1.2 million broadband subscribers, below 2020’s 2.2 million additions and 2019’s 1.4 million additions.
While broadband continued to slow in line with the rest of the industry, mobile subscribers increased by 380,000, soundly beating analysts’ estimates that ranged between 260,000 and 325,000 additions. Spectrum Mobile dropped its prices in October to $29.99 per month, per line for a minimum of two lines, which likely was a big part of the surge in customer additions.
In the quarter, revenue rose 4.7% to $13.2 billion, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were up 7.7% to $5.4 billion. For the full year, revenue was up 7.5% to $51.7 billion and EBITDA increased 11.4% to $20.6 billion.
”In 2022, we remain focused on driving additional customer growth by offering better services while saving customers money on their total communications spend, driving EBITDA growth, free cash flow growth and shareholder value,“ Charter chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge said in a press release. ■
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.
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