Charter Holds Its Own


Charter Communications CEO Mike Lovett's first earnings call as the St. Louis-based MSO's chief executive was relatively painless, with revenue and cash flow growth in line with peers and advanced services growth well exceeding previous quarters.
First quarter revenue at the St. Louis-based cable operator rose 4.5% to $1.7 billion and cash flow increased 3.4% to $637 million. Charter lost about 23,400 basic video customers in the period, but added 95,800 digital customers (nearly four times the 25,600 additions in Q109), 104,000 high-speed Internet customers (up from 71,900 in Q109) and 67,000 phone customers (down from the 74,300 added in Q109).
Chief financial officer Eloise Schmitz, who is scheduled to leave the company at the end of July, said that Charter is making progress toward being listed on the NASDAQ Exchange. A registration statement for about 113 million of its outstanding shares became effective in April and they are tradable on the over-the-counter market under the symbol "CCMM." Schmitz said that the company has made an application for listing on the NASDAQ (under the symbol CHTR) and that it needs to add one independent board member to its audit committee - it already has two - to be in compliance with NASDAQ rules.
Lovett tried to downplay reports that Charter's new chairman - Apollo Asset Management principal Eric Zinterhofer - was leaving Apollo to start his own private equity firm, would affect the cable company. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Zinterhofer -- backed in part by his in-laws the Lauder family, heirs to the Estee Lauder fortune -- is planning to raise between $500 million to $1 billion and would focus on investments in the media and telecom sectors.
"Eric has communicated to me as well as to the rest of our board that he will continue as our chairman," Lovett said of Zinterhofer.