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Cablevision Ends Earnings Losing Streak on Better Forecast

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May 9 (Bloomberg) -- Cablevision Systems Corp. rose after forecasting improved profits following a first-quarter loss, breaking a more than two-year streak without stock gains on days it announces earnings.

Cablevision, the fifth-largest U.S. cable provider by subscribers, advanced 0.8 percent to $15.59 at the close in New York. The last time the Bethpage, New York-based company’s shares rose on a day it reported earnings was Nov. 4, 2010.

Chief Financial Officer Gregg Seibert said during a conference call that price increases and a decline in operating costs would boost earnings in the current quarter. Adjusted operating cash flow -- a measure of profit that excludes stock compensation and other items -- will rise by at least 10 percent over the first quarter’s $343.4 million, he said.

Cablevision is beginning to see improvement from squeezing more money from subscribers. The company announced a $5 monthly increase in Internet subscription rates in December and a $2.98-a-month fee in February to pay for rising sports-programming costs, Average monthly revenue per user in the first quarter was $156.34, less than the $159.02 average analyst estimate.

While the sports surcharge didn’t have any effect on revenue per user in the first quarter, it’s “really driving” the better forecast this quarter, Seibert said.

First-Quarter Loss

Cablevision reported a first-quarter loss of 5,000 video customers and a gain of 23,000 broadband subscribers, compared with the 24,000 average analyst estimate. The Bethpage, New York-based company is still reeling from Superstorm Sandy, which caused damage and thousands of cancellations in October.

Sandy will have no impact to the company’s financial performance this quarter, Seibert said.

Cablevision reported a per-share loss of 6 cents in the first quarter, trailing the 4-cent average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg. The net loss was $16.1 million, compared with profit of $57.2 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier.

The company didn’t buy back any shares in the first quarter, the second consecutive quarter Cablevision didn’t make any repurchases, to save money to pay for damages and costs from Sandy.

Sales fell less than 1 percent to $1.52 billion. Analysts had estimated $1.58 billion.

Cablevision has gained 4.4 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

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