April 27, 2018 / 12:18 PM / a month ago

Charter shares set for worst day on steep video subscriber loss

(Reuters) - Shares of Charter Communications Inc (CHTR.O) were on track for their worst day since going public in 2009 after the cable company saw a sharp drop in video subscribers in the first quarter.

A Charter Communications company service van is pictured in Pasadena, California U.S., January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Charter lost 112,000 video customers in the quarter, twice the number analysts expected, according to financial data analytics firm FactSet.

Cheaper online video streaming options are pushing customers to cut the cord, hurting cable service providers such as Charter and its bigger rival Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O).

Earlier this week, Comcast said it lost higher-than-expected video subscribers in the first quarter.

Shares of Charter were down 16 percent, dragging down other pay-TV companies such as Dish Network Corp (DISH.O), Altice USA (ATUS.N) and Comcast, whose shares fell as much as 7 percent.

“These lighter subscriber results could be interpreted as an indication that the competitive landscape has changed, requiring a shift in (Charter’s) strategy,” Evercore analyst Vijay Jayant wrote in a note.

    The company has multiple levers to pull - including pricing and promotion to still drive robust long term free cash flow growth, however, the question is whether that growth is going to be driven by a different mix of those levers, Jayant said.

    Charter’s internet business grew at a rapid pace, adding 362,000 subscribers in the quarter and reporting a 9.1 percent rise in revenue.

    Net income attributable to Charter shareholders rose to $168 million, or 70 cents per share, in the quarter ended March 31 from $155 million, or 57 cents per share, a year earlier.

    Revenue rose 4.9 percent to $10.66 billion.

    Analysts on average expected earnings of 52 cents per share on revenue of $10.63 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    Shares of the Stamford, Connecticut-based company have fallen 11.3 percent since the beginning of the year.

    Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva

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