Let’s face it — only those who care deeply about the nuts and bolts of cable company performance will grapple with this morning’s earnings release, complicated by Charter‘s acquisition in July of Bresnan Broadband. What investors want to know is: When will CEO Tom Rutledge and his top shareholder, Liberty Media’s John Malone, make a move on Time Warner Cable? In that respect, the main takeaway from first impressions of the Q3 numbers is that they shouldn’t change the story line about Charter’s ability to handle a big deal. The company had a net loss of $70M, an improvement from the $103M loss Charter would have had if it had owned Bresnan last year, on pro forma revenues of $2.12B, +5.4%. That’s pretty much on target with expectations for $2.1B. Video subscriptions fell 3.3% to 4.2M, but revenues increased 7.4% to $1.04B due to rate increases and increased subscriptions of the higher priced digital tier services. The broadband business was much stronger, with subs +7.3% to 4.3M with revenues +15.2% to $575M. The phone operation was mixed with subs +8.7% to 2.2M but revenues -27.5% to $161M. The company attributes that to “value-based pricing” and bundling. “As we head into 2014, we believe Charter is in an increasingly strong position to grow both its market share and cash flow as we accelerate our all-digital program, begin to roll out new products and take full advantage of our superior network,” Rutledge says.
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