Cablevision ( CVC) came up short on the cable vision thing this week.

Shares in the New York-based cable operator continued getting shellacked Friday, after an investor meeting Thursday failed to persuade analysts that Cablevision has a clear sense of how it will dig its way out of its current financial hole.

Even the sell-side analysts who are bullish on Cablevision are disappointed with the company's long-awaited plan for addressing a looming cash shortfall as large as $1 billion, and say the measures announced Thursday are insufficient for bridging the funding gap.

Shares in Cablevision -- which operates New York City cable systems, channels such as American Movie Classics and Madison Square Garden -- fell as much as 19% Friday, close to the company's 52-week low of $5.25. Shares were trading at $5.42 Friday afternoon, down $1.18 for the day and 31% over the past two days.

Two of the skeptical bulls Thursday were Bear Stearns' Ray Katz and Goldman Sachs' Richard Greenfield. While both are positive on the stock -- Katz with a buy and Greenfield with a market outperformer rating -- they both say that the measures outlined by CEO Jim Dolan and other Cablevision executives will leave the company $250 million short on its journey to generating free cash flow. As it has previously, Cablevision said Thursday it would achieve free cash flow -- cash flow from operations after capital expenditures and interest expense have been subtracted -- in 2004.

Bear Stearns and Goldman have both done recent banking for Cablevision.

Despite management's insistence to the contrary Thursday, both Katz and Greenfield say Cablevision will have to sell assets beyond its Clearview Cinemas for its plan to work -- part or all of its Rainbow Media Group ( RMG) programming operation, or its wireless telephone business. And both say that the shortfall will continue to weigh on the stock until management addresses it in a more convincing manner.

Remember, those were some of Cablevision's biggest fans speaking. Further down the spectrum of skepticism, Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen dropped her intermediate term rating on the company from strong buy to neutral. While "pleased" with the capital-expenditure reduction outlined by Cablevision Thursday, Cohen, like others, appeared frustrated by Cablevision's reluctance at the meeting, despite questions from several attendees, to supply many specifics of the capex reduction plan. "We are still not able to show free cash flow generation in calendar year 2004 ," wrote Cohen in her note Friday. "In fact, we actually estimate negative free cash flow through CY05." Merrill has done recent banking for Cablevision.

Lara Warner of Credit Suisse First Boston also downgraded Cablevision, from Buy to Hold. Warner objected not only to Cablevision's lack of specificity, but also to the "begrudging" tone of management, which includes both Dolan and his father, chairman Charles Dolan.

"In a period in which investors are particularly sensitive to family-owned businesses and their alignment with public shareholder interests, we believe CVC could have gone further to shore up investor confidence in their discipline around this business," wrote Warner. CSFB has done banking business for Cablevision within the past year.

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