Altice USA Shares Drop But Brass Stays Cool: “We Are Extremely Comfortable”


Altice USA has seen its share price drop by 11% on triple its average trading volume today, reaching $22.12, well below its initial public offering price of $31.60 in June, but top executives say they are not planning any emergency measures.

“We are comfortable with the leverage that we have,” said Dennis Okhuljsen, CFO of the U.S. unit’s France-based parent company, Altice, during a conference call today with financial analysts. Despite above-average debt, which it does not plan to reduce, having a lower share price, Okhuljsen added, means “it’s much more attractive for us to buy back our own stock. … We do feel comfortable with the profile.”

Beyond the mention of buybacks, which are already routinely done, execs largely shrugged off the stock movement despite multiple questions from analysts, saying they would not be exploring a rumored combination with Charter or any other strategic moves. Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei noted that roughly 15% of the company’s investors are private equity funds, which could provide financing down the line.

The stock hit comes a day after the company reported solid third-quarter results, with revenue increasing 3% from the year-ago quarter and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) up 19% from. The U.S. unit, which acquired Cablevision and Suddenlink to become the nation’s No. 4 cable operator, said quarterly revenue reached $2.3 billion and EBITDA came in at $1 billion.

As it seeks to execute its grand vision to transform the television landscape, the company has introduced a new all-in-one platform called Altice One, which replaces the separate cable box and router in favor of a single, “smart” hub. The first such units will be installed on Cablevision’s longtime base on New York’s Long Island beginning Monday before rolling out across the rest of the country in the coming months.

“We are embracing OTT as part of the key differentiating features of our platform,” Goei said during the call. “We want to make sure there is a seamless experience for customers as they go from Netflix or YouTube to Disney,” whose networks recently reached a carriage deal with Altice after an impasse.

Altice reported 33,000 video subscriber losses, down from 40,000 in the year-earlier quarter. Goei said traditional “triple-play” customer trends in the Optimum footprint were more encouraging than those in the former Suddenlink markets, which feature more competitors, he said.

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