Q4 Video Sub Losses Rise, Broadband Growth Slows at Altice USA

But operator says December gains encouraging
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Q4 video subscriber losses more than tripled to 44,000 from 14,200 in the prior year, and broadband subscriber growth slowed at Altice USA, but the company said it was encouraged by a strong December.

Altice USA said the video and broadband subscriber losses were mainly due to promotional rolloffs. And though its 7,000 Q4 broadband additions came in at less than one-third of the 22,000 it added in the prior year, a late quarter surge proved to be encouraging. Altice said it added about 17,000 broadband subscribers in December, effectively wiping out losses in October and November.  

Residential revenue was essentially flat in the quarter and cash flow declined 2% to $1.1 billion. Altice Mobile, the wireless service the company launched in September, added 54,000 customers in Q4, generating $18 million in revenue.

Related: Altice to Buy Service Electric New Jersey Systems for $150M

Altice said it expects full year 2020 revenue to grow between 2% and 2.5% with capital expenditures of $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion.

“We are pleased to enter 2020 on the heels of an exceptional December performance, across all of our core businesses,” Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei said in a press release. “We are seeing particular strength in broadband as we continue to reap the benefits of ongoing investments in our network, including FTTH and DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades. These remain key priorities as we accelerate our ongoing speed upgrades, which include broad-scale availability of Gigabit services as well as enhanced WiFi performance across the footprint.”

MoffettNathanson principal and senior analyst Craig Moffett wrote in a research note that the broadband gains were better than expected -- consensus estimates were for a loss of 6,000 customers -- and signaled that the promotions-related losses are behind them. But he was less sanguine about the company’s ability to grow revenue and subscribers simultaneously. Altice missed consensus revenue growth targets for the quarter and fell short of full year guidance of 2.5%.

“We have argued in the past that as long as Altice’s broadband unit growth is positive, the market is likely to view their results as ‘good enough,’” Moffett wrote. “Well, growth was positive in the quarter. But, not by much.”

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