The stock is up 4.3% at mid-day, and poised to close at an all-time high, after the cable company reported a smaller loss than investors expected. Charter had a Q1 net loss of $42M, an improvement from the $94M loss a year ago, on revenues of $1.92B, +4.9%. Analysts predicted the top line would be a little lower, at $1.90B. But the net loss of 42 cents a share handily beat expectations for a 61 cent loss. The number of video subscribers fell 5% year over year to nearly 4M. But video revenues grew 6.8% to $956M due to rate increases and efforts to sell premium tiers and services. The Internet business was stronger with subs up 7% to 3.9M and revenues +10.8% to $501M. “While we still have more work to do, significant progress is evident in our first quarter results,” CEO Tom Rutledge says. He told analysts that due to programming price increases and broadcaster demands for retransmission consent payments cable operators have “very expensive bundles of video packages in our product mix that we as distributors can’t do much about at the moment….So it’s a difficult consumer proposition and the economy is still not great.” Even so, Rutledge doesn’t believe that things would change much if the courts rule that broadcast streaming services such as Aereo can provide a low-cost alternative to cable,” he says. But since so much programming is already on pay TV, “I really don’t see it as a game changer regardless of whether it’s legal or not.”
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