Cox Reports Strong Sales


Cox Communications Inc. reported its "strongest salesyet of our advanced communications services" during the third quarter ending Sept.30, the MSO said last Wednesday.

Cox's third-quarter revenue was $526.6 million, up 14percent over the 1998 third-quarter figure. Operating cash flow increased 10 percent to$196.5 million.

The earnings results were in line with expectations, SGCowen Securities Corp. analyst Gary Farber wrote last Thursday morning, restating a"buy" rating for the company's stock. Farber cited Cox's double-digit cash-flowgrowth, strong customer service, solid subscriber growth and plant upgrades that allow theMSO to offer a bundled package of video, voice and data.

Basic-cable subscribers numbered 3.8 million at the end ofthe third quarter, excluding recently acquired customers from Cox's acquisition of TCACable TV Inc., marking a 2.8 percent internal increase over last year.

As of Sept. 30, "Cox Digital TV" had 201,752customers, and the digital-video service passed nearly 4 million homes.

Cox had 140,474 Cox@Home high-speed-data customers, out of3.463 million data-ready homes passed.

The MSO's residential phone customers numbered 80,952 atthe end of September, out of 1.027 million telephone-ready homes. Cox saw growth intelephone revenue on both the residential and commercial sides of the business, thecompany said.

"We have been successful in the initial deployment ofour digital-video, high-speed Internet and digital-telephone services in our majormarkets," Cox president Jim Robbins said in a press release, "and we have nowbegun expanding them into our midsized markets. In all of these Cox markets, we areexperiencing exciting customer acceptance of our full-service slate of broadband services.Currently, Cox customers have purchased more than 423,000 new-service revenue-generatingunits, putting us on track to exceed our expectations for 1999."

Programming costs rose 12 percent for the quarter, andplant-operations expenses increased 10 percent. Marketing costs were up 24 percent due tothe effort to roll out the new services.

The MSO reported a 22 percent rise in pay-per-view revenueover the year-earlier quarter, due to an increase in digital PPV revenues and the Oscar DeLa Hoya-Felix Trinidad boxing match.

Cox's stock price ticked up about 5 percent to $44.38 atmidday last Thursday.