Charter Communications

St. Louis

Revenue: $3.95 billion

Loss: $1.79 billion

Like its peers, Charter Communications has been aggressively building up its infrastructure over the past several years to accommodate new services like voice and high-speed data transmission.

But as the economic outlook got increasingly cloudier, demand for those high-margin services dried up, and cablers were left with tens of billions in long-term debt.

Charter is among the worst offenders on that front. The No. 4 cable operator, which boasts nearly 7 million customers, has racked up $18 billion in debt.

Investor worries over that figure have played hell with Charter stock: after trading as high as $22 in the fall, the company has settled to a recent low of $2.50.

That decline has prompted Charter executives to take some drastic measures. The company said earlier this month that it was mulling the sale of several nonstrategic cable assets — a deal that could raise as much as $1.9 billion.

The company’s second-quarter earnings provided a glimmer of hope, losses narrowed and revenues grew as the company increased its subscriber rolls for broadband Internet services.

Charter’s travails over the past several months have led to increasing chatter in the market that billionaire Microsoft alum Paul Allen, who owns a controlling stake in the cabler, could make a move to acquire it outright and even take it private.

Investors were heartened earlier this month when Allen reported a purchase of nearly 300,000 shares of Charter stock.

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