Charter Loss Narrows as Company Gains Internet Customers

Charter Communications Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. cable company, reported a narrower loss than a year earlier after revenue from Internet services helped offset the continuing defection of television subscribers.

The third-quarter net loss shrank to $70 million, or 68 cents a share, from $103 million, or $1.03, a year earlier, the Stamford, Connecticut-based company said in a statement. Sales climbed 5.4 percent to $2.12 billion, in line with estimates.

Chief Executive Officer Tom Rutledge, who joined the company in February of last year, is relying on broadband service to fuel growth. Charter had 4.29 million video customers last quarter, surpassing its 4.18 million video subscribers -- a sign of the diminishing importance of TV for the cable industry.

Charter shares fell 3.5 percent to $131.06 at the close in New York. The stock has gained 72 percent this year.

Billionaire John Malone bought a 27 percent stake in Charter earlier this year through his holding company Liberty Media Corp. The cable pioneer has vowed to turn Charter into a “horizontal acquisition machine.” Time Warner Cable Inc. makes sense as a possible merger target, he has said.

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