Debt weighs on Charter

Company's losses continue to mount

NEW YORK — Paul Allen’s debt-laden Charter Communications lost $352 million last quarter, even as a rollout of new services led by high-speed Internet boosted revenue 5% to $1.27 billion.

The cabler is staggering under $18.9 billion in debt — the legacy of a string of acquisitions in past years. As a result, hefty interest expense wipes out profits.

The St. Louis company is attempting to turn itself around and said Tuesday that initiatives in customer care and service, product development and marketing are moving the needle. It said revenue per video subscriber is up 11%, and it added 94,000 high-speed customers and 19,900 digital video customers from the year-ago quarter.

Charter’s depleted stock rose 3.74% to $1.11 as Wall Street took heart that a transition is afoot and continued to speculate that a cash infusion by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Allen may be on the way in the second half.

Oppenheimer analyst Tom Eagan thinks Charter may try to slash its debt by selling its Los Angeles cable systems and sees Time Warner as the likeliest buyer.

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