Cox Communications ( COX) swung to a loss in the first quarter despite a 16% rise in revenue, as the year-ago quarter was propped up by derivatives gains.

The cable company lost $29.2 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with earnings of $135.6 million, or 22 cents a share, last year. The year-ago quarter included a $720 million gain from derivatives and a $409 million loss from investments, pretax, items that were largely absent from the most recent quarter.

Operating income, which Cox defines as total revenue minus total costs and expenses minus depreciation and amortization, rose 44% to $95.1 million.

Total revenues was $1.37 billion in the latest quarter, up 16% from last year due to increased customers for services like digital cable, high-speed Internet access and telephony; higher basic cable rates and a $5 price increase on high-speed Internet access in certain markets.

"We also added 154,000 high-speed Internet and 64,000 telephone customers in the first quarter, and penetration of digital cable to basic customers is nearing 30%, demonstrating unabated demand for Cox's digital service bundle," the company said in a release.

Looking ahead, Cox expects revenue to rise 14% or 15% in 2003, operating cash flow to rise 15% to 16%, and capital expenditures to be about $1.6 billion.

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