Trims boost Charter’s bottom line

Co.'s 2Q revs up 7% to $1.27 billion

Paul Allen-owned Charter Communications Thursday posted improved operating cash flow results on reduced capital spending, repeating the new cost-conscious mantra of the cable industry.

Charter announced revenues were up 7% in the second quarter of this year over last to $1.27 billion, with income from operations totaling $112 million, a hefty 32% bump over the same period a year ago.

Carl Vogel, president-CEO, touted the company’s newfound ability to generate free cash flow ($56 million for the second quarter compared with negative cash of $432 million a year ago), and said new pricing and packages will be introduced in its top markets in the second half of this year.

Loss trimmed

Company, which has been restructuring and cleaning house after a year of SEC accounting investigations and legal woes, also cut its net loss to $38 million from $161 million last year.

Cash flow from operating activity for the first six months of 2003 totaled $285 million, up 20.3% from $237 million reported a year ago, thanks to a drastic 74% reduction in spending on its cable plant and equipment.

“We remain very disciplined in managing our capital expenditures, and expect to spend less than the $1.1 billion previously planned,” Vogel said.

Sub story

Like many of its peers, Charter also bore the cost of some of that spending cut, with net losses in both analog and digital cable customers of 41,200 and 47,200, respectively. Over 12 months ending June 30, however, Charter claims it’s added 223,400 digital video subs. Company picked up 76,700 high-speed data customers.

During the quarter, Vogel said the company “reduced corporate and divisional staff as well, and replaced general management in many of our key markets in the quarter, which we believe will provide a strong foundation for the future.”

Four former charter execs last week were indicted on fraud charges relating to manipulation and falsification of subscriber numbers.

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