Charter Communications missed analysts’ targets for broadband customer additions in Q4 by a hair, but ended the year on a high note, with cash flow and revenue growth rates that far outpaced the previous year.
Charter closed out the fourth quarter adding 246,000 broadband customers, slightly below some analysts’ predictions of 300,000 additions. The broadband growth pace was considerably slower than the 850,000 customers the segment added in Q2 and the 537,000 added in Q3, but was expected. For the full year, Charter added 2.2 million broadband customers, compared to 1.4 million additions in 2019.
Residential video losses at 66,000 improved in the period, compared to the 2019 deficit of 105,000. Including small and medium business video additions of 31,000 customers, Charter lost 35,000 video customers in Q4, about one-third of the 101,000 it shed in 2019. For the full year, Charter added 19,000 video customers, compared to a loss of 484,000 customers in 2019.
“Our 2020 performance demonstrates that our customer-friendly operating strategy works well for Charter communities, employees and shareholders, even in challenging economic and operating environments,” Charter chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge said in a press release. "We added nearly two million customer relationships in 2020 — 800,000 more than we added in 2019 — and demand for our connectivity products remains strong. As we look forward, we remain focused on the continued execution of our operating strategy, driving customer, revenue and free cash flow growth, enhancing value for our shareholders.”
In the meantime, revenue rose 7.3% in the period to $12.6 billion and adjusted EBITDA increased by 10.2% to $4.99 billion. Full year revenue increased by 5.1% to $48.1 billion and adjusted EBITDA rose 10% to $18.5 billion. Charter’s full year EBITDA growth rate was twice that of 2019, when it rose by about 5%.
Charter's stock price was down about 6.5% in mid-day trading Friday (Jan. 29).
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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