×

Cablevision Acquirer Altice Stock Drops 5% After Announcing 2015 Results

Market still worries about cost-cutter Altice’s debt, commitment to marketing, strategy, customer experience

PARIS – Patrick Drahi’s Altice Group, which bought Cablevision last September – in a deal pending regulatory approval – reported 2015 results which gave markets much of what they wanted – such as the first uptick in mobile customers at French cell-phone operator SFR – but not enough of it to stop a 4.8% plunge in morning trading on corporate stock.

Revenues at the whole Altice Group plateau-ed at €17.495 billion (), 0.1% down year-on-year. For France’s cable-mobile phone operator Numericable-SFR, Altice’s biggest unit, whose full year results were announced separately, sales were down 3.5% to €11.039 billion ($12.2 billion), vs. 2014. Altice Group operating profit stood at €6.671 billion ($7.4 billion), up 7.7% year-on-year.

Final quarter financials also pinpoint potential weaknesses of Drahi’s managerial philosophy – buy lavishly, run up debt, slash costs – as the Cablevision deal pends regulatory approval.

To its credit, over Oct-Dec. 2015, for the first time since Drahi made waves, acquiring SFR from Vivendi, Altice has managed to stem the loss of mobile customers, which saw it lose 1 million clients over the first half of 2015, goosing its residential mobile customer base by 140,000 customers to 12.6 million. Like other telcos in Europe, Altice has flagged it will invest in building both its 4G and fiber optic networks.

Market concerns look to lie elsewhere, however. Last year, Altice bought 70% of St. Louis-based cable operator Suddenlink in May, paying $9.1 billion, then $17.7 billion for New York’s Cablevision. Company net debt mountain is nearly €50 billion ($56 billion).

“My main worry is that Altice is pilling up new debts again and, needing increasingly more cash to pay back debt, may push Numericable into a direction were it shouldn’t be,” said François Godard, an analyst at Enders Analysis.

But the weak side of Altice, if Numericable, which Drahi has owned for a decade, is anything to go by, is “marketing, content and customer experience,” he added. A large question is whether Drahi will transfer this faults to Cablevision. SFR has indeed become a byword in France for underwhelming customer experience. In November, Altice bid aggressively, paying reportedly over €300 million ($333 million) to snag rights to English Premier League soccer rights in France.  It will need to step up that content drive to really stand apart from its competitors in content. As many observers have commented, Drahi’s heart may be more in cutting than building.

More Film

  • Aquaman 2018

    'Aquaman' Crosses $250 Million at Foreign Box Office

    Things are going swimmingly at the box office for “Aquaman” as the Warner Bros.’ superhero flick hits another major milestone overseas. James Wan’s take on the ruler of the seven seas just passed $250 million internationally, and a weekend haul of $126.4 million from 43 territories brings its foreign tally to $261.3 million. “Aquaman” — [...]

  • Mortal Engines

    'Mortal Engines' to Lose More Than $100 Million at Box Office

    “Mortal Engines,” a steampunk fantasy adventure, is also an epic flop. With a budget of just over $100 million and tens of millions in global marketing costs, executives at rival studios estimate that the movie will lose upwards of $100 million. Some even project that number could float to more than $125 million. “Mortal Engines” [...]

  • Thierry Frémaux, José Luis Rebordinos Honored

    Thierry Frémaux, José Luis Rebordinos Named Honorary Argentine Academy Members

    BUENOS AIRES — In a ceremony just before Friday’s prize announcements at Ventana Sur, Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux and José Luis Rebordinos, director of the San Sebastian Festival, were named honorary members of Argentina’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in a new move for the Academy, out through by its new president, Bernardo [...]

  • Nona

    Film Review: 'Nona'

    Twenty years and 12 features down the line, it’s still hard to peg the directorial sensibility of Michael Polish, with or without the presence of brother Mark as frequent co-writer and actor. His output has been all over the place, from early Lynchian quirkfests to the very middle-of-the-road inspirational dramedy “The Astronaut Farmer,” not to [...]

  • Pawel Pawlikowski "Cold War"

    Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Wins for Best Film, Director at European Film Awards

    “Cold War,” Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white romance set in the 1950s, scooped the prizes for best film, director and screenplay at the 31st edition of the European Film Awards on Saturday. “Cold War” star Joanna Kulig also won the award for best actress. Marcello Fonte, the star of Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” won for best actor. Armando Iannucci’s [...]

  • The Favourite Bohemian Rapsody Star is

    The Best Movie Scenes of 2018

    When we think back on a movie that transported us, we often focus on a great scene — or maybe the greatest scene — in it. It’s natural. Those scenes are more than just defining. They can be the moment that lifts a movie into the stratosphere, that takes it to the higher reaches of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content