Charter Communications Inc. reported operating cash-flow growth of 29 percent
for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 -- nearly triple the industry average --
fueled by aggressive digital- and basic-cable subscriber growth.
Operating cash flow for the period was $433.2 million, and revenue rose 15.8
percent to $839.9 million.
Much of the MSO's growth came from new digital subscriptions. Charter
averaged 17,500 digital installs per week for the quarter and 40,000 throughout
the month of December. The company also showed strong growth in high-speed-data
customers, ending with 252,400.
Cable-modem installations nearly doubled to 5,200 from 2,700 in the previous
Charter also posted strong basic-subscriber growth over the period, at 2.5
percent. That gave CEO Jerald Kent ammunition for a good-natured jab at one
unnamed industry pundit.
'There is one industry analyst who claims that Charter is more susceptible to
satellite competition than most others,' Kent said in a conference call with
analysts. 'To that person, we have now led the industry five years in a row. It
may be time to reassess your model.'
Kent said Charter plans to add more new services in 2001. Video-on-demand --
currently available in Los Angeles and the Atlanta suburbs -- will be expanded
into 10 new markets this year, including St. Louis; Fort Worth, Texas;
Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C.; and additional areas in California.
About 2.2 million homes will have access to VOD by the end of the year, Kent
Charter expects operating-cash-flow growth to be in the 12 percent to 14
percent range in 2001, with revenue rising 14 percent to 16