Buys boosts NTL profit for 4th qtr.

Quarter sales double to $493.4 mil

LONDON — NTL, the U.K.’s biggest cabler, has posted a profit of $124.3 million for the final quarter of 1999, up from a loss of $172.1 million the previous year.

The boost has much to do with NTL’s recent acquisitions. Sales in the quarter almost doubled to $493.4 million from the year-earlier period’s $262.4 million.

Last year, the company picked up cable networks in Ireland, France and Switzerland. NTL has also agreed to take over the TV business of Cable & Wireless Communications, a deal that will up NTL’s subscriber count from 1.8 million to around 3 million, once regulatory approval is received.

Full-year loss

For the full year ending Dec. 31, however, NTL posted a loss of $732.7 million on sales of $1.58 billion. The previous year’s loss was $503.9 million on sales of $747 million.

Nevertheless, NTL has also unveiled upbeat penetration figures.

In its old franchises, NTL is now in 48% of the households that can take its services. Including all franchises, the average is 40%.

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