Liberty Global Tops Estimates With Revenue of $4.6 Billion

  • John Malone's European pay-TV company signs 156,000 users
  • Liberty cites growth in broadband, video, fixed line customers

Liberty Global Plc, billionaire John Malone’s European cable company, reported first-quarter sales that beat analysts’ estimates as it gained customers in Chile, Germany and Belgium.

Revenue grew 1.6 percent to $4.59 billion, the London-based company said Monday in a statement. Analysts had predicted $4.36 billion on average. The company added 156,000 customers in the period.

Liberty Global, which owns cable companies from Hungary to the U.K. to the Caribbean, has been focusing on broadband and mobile-phone services for growth after acquiring pay-TV companies over the past decade. In February, it agreed to combine its business in the Netherlands with Vodafone Group Plc, joining forces to challenge Royal KPN NV and Deutsche Telekom AG. The combination of Liberty’s Ziggo and Vodafone brands would create a business with more than 5 million mobile subscribers, 4 million video clients and 3 million broadband customers.

“We exceeded our own expectations for the first quarter with more than 150,000 new RGUs, a sharp increase from last year, as we demonstrated improved momentum across all products,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Fries said in the statement.

The net loss for the quarter narrowed to $369.1 million from $537.5 million a year earlier, Liberty Global said in a regulatory filing.

Liberty Global said it added 135,000 subscriptions through so-called organic growth during the quarter. The company’s expansion has been coming from broadband customers as its video business loses ground to streaming and other on-demand services.

Previous talks between Liberty Global and Vodafone to swap European assets ended in September after the companies failed to agree on the value of U.K. and German operations, two of the largest markets for both, a person familiar with the matter said at the time. Malone, Liberty’s chairman, has said that while the companies’ assets would fit well in Europe, philosophical differences on dividends and expansion will make a combination difficult.

Liberty Global rose 0.3 percent to $37.36 at the close in New York. The shares have declined 12 percent this year.

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