Charter high-speed Internet subscriber growth slows in Q4 2012

MSO drops 36,000 residential video subscribers
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Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) said it picked up 54,000 cable modem customers in the fourth quarter, down from the 68,000 it gained this time last year. The MSO blamed the slower growth on the elimination of deeply discounted offers, including a $19.99 monthly high-speed Internet promotion it pitched to subscribers last year.

The nation's fourth largest cable MSO said Friday that expanding its HDTV channel lineup helped it reduce basic video subscriber losses, as it dropped 36,000 in the fourth quarter. That was an 18 percent improvement compared to the 44,000 video customers it dropped in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Charter grew its telephone subscriber base by 34,000 in the quarter, an improvement compared to the 27,000 it gained last year. But its telephone revenues fell 14.3 percent to $186 million in the fourth quarter, which it attributed to "value-based pricing and revenue allocation in multi-product packages."

Despite the video subscriber losses, Charter managed to grow its video revenue by 2.8 percent to $927 million thanks to increased sales of DVRs and HD programming packages. High-speed Internet revenue increased 9 percent to $482 million.

The average Charter customer paid the company $105.78 monthly in the fourth quarter, an increase of a nickel compared to the same period in 2011.

Charter shelled out $1.75 billion on capital expenditures in the fourth quarter, an increase of more than $400 million compared to last year. The MSO said spending increased due to moving the company's headquarters from St. Louis, Mo., to Stamford, Conn., and that it also saw increased spending on set-tops, cable plant and its fleet of service vehicles.

Commercial revenue increased by 20.4 percent to $177 million, and ad-sales revenue jumped 18.5 percent to $96 million. Total revenue increased by 4.3 percent to $1.91 billion. Charter posted a net loss of $40 million (41 cents per share), an improvement compared to the net loss of $67 million (63 cents per share) that it reported in the fourth quarter of 2011.

For more:
- see the release

Special Report: Cable in the fourth quarter of 2012

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