Cablevision Trims Guidance

The cable operator also points to developments in an accounting probe.
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posted a third-quarter loss, trimmed financial guidance for the second straight quarter and said it would restate previous 2003 numbers.

For the third quarter ended Sept. 30, the Bethpage, N.Y.-based company lost $105 million, or 36 cents a share, on revenue of $975 million. The company's loss from continuing operations was $112 million, or 39 cents a share. That compares with the Thomson First Call estimate of a 37-cent loss on revenue of $984 million. A year ago, the company lost $28 million, or 9 cents a share, from continuing operations on revenue of $872 million.

The company also said it expected to restate at least $15 million in expenses as booked in previous 2003 periods as a result of an ongoing accounting inquiry being conducted at its request by a New York law firm. The company said in June that it found some expenses had been improperly booked at its Rainbow Media unit; Cablevision hired Wilmer Cutler & Pickering to look into the matter. The company said the probe continues, but that it expects to issue a restatement of previous 2003 quarters, as well as a possible restatement of earlier years.

Meanwhile, Cablevision continues to trim its growth estimates. For the second quarter running, Cablevision cut its adjusted operating cash flow growth estimate, to 12% from a range of 14% to 16%. The company cited "lower than expected video subscriber growth, primarily in New York City, as the rebuild was not completed in the third quarter as expected."

Cablevision also forecast "modestly negative" 2004 free cash flow, though it said it expects to reach the black on that basis in the fourth quarter of 2004. Free cash flow measures a company's ability to service its debt, which in Cablevision's case amounts to some $8 billion on a net basis.

Cablevision shares closed at $20.43 Monday.