Cablevision sees a mixed 4th qtr.

Cablevision Systems Corp. said Wednesday net losses widened 31% in the fourth quarter to $ 86.90 million or $ 3.78 per share, although revenues gained 9% to $ 171.97 million due to internal subscriber growth and rate increases. No estimates were available.

Operating cashflow dropped 21% to $ 52.56 million last quarter, dragged down by an extraordinary non-cash charge of $ 15.49 million for an incentive stock plan triggered by Cablevision’s share price climb to $ 67.88 at year end from $ 35 in 1992.

Without that charge, Cablevision said, operating cashflow would have grown by less than 1% last quarter because of last September’s implementation of federal cable rate cuts. To add more bad news, Standard & Poor’s Corp. said Wednesday that the FCC’s decision to impose more rate cuts makes a credit downgrade more likely for Cablevision.

Merger rumors

Even so, Cablevision shares rose 25 cents to $ 67.50 per share as talk persisted that the company is close to striking a merger deal with a larger partner whom traders speculate is Time Warner.

For the year ended Dec. 31, Cablevision’s net loss shrank 1.5% to $ 246.78 million or $ 10.83 per share. Annual revenues gained 16% to $ 666.7 million, partly due to the consolidation of the company’s CNYC unit in July 1992. Operating cashflow edged up 2% to $ 252.16 million. Without the incentive plan charge, it would have grown 10% on an annual basis.

Average revenue drops

While Cablevision notched up an increase of 116,600 subscribers or 9% to a total 1.38 million subscribers at year end, the monthly revenue of an average subscriber dropped $ 1.05 to $ 36.59 in 1993 from the prior year. Cablevision attributed a decline of $ 1.60 in average monthly revenue directly to the rate reregulation implemented last September, but said it could not yet forecast how great an impact Tuesday’s 7% reduction will have on its business.

Cablevision also manages or has a stake in cable systems serving about 852, 600 subscribers as of year end.

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