New York – Cablevision Systems CEO James Dolan told an audience at an investor conference that it was “less likely,” given the state of the credit markets, that the MSO would sell assets in the near term.
That comment sent Cablevision shares plunging in early trading Thursday – the stock was down as much as $2.37 per share (9%) to $23.51 each before gaining much of that back by the end of the day. Cablevision shares closed at $25.39 each, down just 49 cents per share.
Analysts and investors have expected Cablevision to sell assets ever since Dolan said on Cablevision’s second- quarter earnings conference call on July 30 that the company was investigating alternatives to boost shareholder value. Since then, the company has authorized management to investigate a share repurchase, dividend and asset sales as possible alternatives. Cablevision’s board of directors authorized a 20-cent per share dividend on Aug. 15.
At the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference Thursday, Dolan said that if the company were to sell assets, it would probably be the “developed mature cable networks,” which likely means its Rainbow Media Holdings unit, including AMC, IFC and WE TV.
But when asked if it was the right time to sell cable networks, Dolan replied: “I think the shut down of the credit markets make the purchase of assets and the sale of assets less likely.”
Dolan also said that his family, which has attempted to take the company private three times in the past few years, isn’t likely to try again soon.
“I would never completely rule it out, but at this time it is not on our radar screen,” Dolan said of privatization