Charter profit beats on internet subscriber gains

(Reuters) - Charter Communications Inc CHTR.O on Tuesday topped analysts' estimates for quarterly profit as the cable operator lost fewer-than-expected video subscribers, while signing up more customers for its internet services.

Shares of Charter rose 4.6 percent in early trading after the company added 218,000 residential internet customers in the second quarter well above 185,000 estimated by research firm FactSet.

Cable-TV customers have been increasingly cutting the cord for cheaper online alternatives from Netflix Inc NFLX.O and Inc's AMZN.O Prime Video, pushing companies such as Charter and Comcast Corp CMCSA.O to focus on their broadband businesses.

Charter Chief Executive Officer Thomas Rutledge on a post-earnings call assured investors that the company can execute its business plan despite their belief that programming costs for video will grow and traditional cable will lose share to online streaming services.

Charter reported a loss of 73,000 residential video customers in the quarter, slower than 91,000 it had lost a year earlier. Analysts had expected a loss of 108,000 video subscribers.

“Despite all the fears of lower growth rates, Charter remains a growth story. But it is not just a unit growth story. Charter’s story is one of EBITDA growth, margin expansion, and free cash flow growth,” MoffettNathanson analysts said.

Net income attributable to shareholders rose to $273 million, or $1.15 per share, for the quarter ended June 30 from $139 million, or 52 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average expected the company to report earnings of 99 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total revenue rose to $10.85 billion from $10.36 billion, beating expectations of $10.83 billion.

Reporting by Shariq Khan and Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva