New York (TheStreet) -- Charter Communications (CHTR) would like to buy Time Warner Cable (TWC), and its investors have long cheered the proposition of a merger that could create a more formidable competitor to Comcast (CMCSA), AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ).
Yet Charter's plan to may not be working out as originally hoped.
On Friday, shares of Stamford, Conn.-based Charter, the country's fourth-largest cable-TV provider, were slipping after it reported a larger loss in the first quarter than expected. The loss was due in part to expenses related to a digital overhaul of its cable-TV network as well as preparations to acquire Bright House Networks, the country's sixth largest cable-TV provider, a deal that was annulled when Comcast was unable to close the Time Warner Cable transaction.
Charter CEO Tom Rutledge didn't address Charter's acquisition plans in an investor conference call, leaving investors little insight into whether the company will make a play for either Time Warner Cable or Orlando, Fla.-based Bright House.
"Suddenly, the script has gotten a bit more complicated," said Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson in a May 1 investor note.
Charter's ability to assume the role of acquirer is predicated on its broadband subscriber growth, which rose 8.8% in the quarter despite falling short of analyst consensus expectations for 9% increase. But Time Warner Cable, which agreed to be acquired by Comcast 14 months ago when the company's own broadband efforts were stumbling, has emerged as a stronger company.