Cox profits dip but revs, cash flow grow

Co. reports net income of $62.7 mil; revenue grew 12%

HOLLYWOOD — Cox Communications reported lower second-quarter profits but strong revenue and cash-flow gains as the cabler pressed ahead with its strategy of selling a bundled package of video, telephone and high-speed Internet service.

Atlanta-based Cox, the fourth-largest U.S. cable TV company, with 6.3 million TV subscribers, reported net income of $62.7 million compared with $117.7 million one year ago. Revenue grew 12% to $1.6 billion and cash flow increased 16% to $616 million.

Cox’s profits suffered in comparison with last year due a one-time gain on investments in 2003, a loss on the payment of debt, and a loss on the sale of a group of rural cable systems.

The second quarter, ended June 30, is a seasonably difficult one for cable ops as students and retirees disconnect service to return to their summer homes. The company lost 54,000 basic TV customers in the quarter due in part to this, and to increased discounting by satcasters in Cox’s markets. Overall, its customer base was up 1.8% over the same period last year.

Company added 60,321 digital TV, 97,617 Internet and 66,265 telephone customers. In an ominous sign for competing telcos, the company’s telephone business grew 24% from last year, reaching 1.1 million customers.

Cox topper Jim Robbins has said the company would expand through acquisition given the right opportunity. “What’s much more important for us is the right stuff, not a whole lot of stuff,” he said.

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