Cablevision Posts Solid Earnings as Altice Acquisition Gains FCC Approval

Cablevision (CVC) shares were flat Thursday morning after the company reported earnings that exceeded expectations and two days after a U.S. regulator approved its acquisition by a European peer.

The Bethpage, N.Y., company said it earned 34 cents per share in the first quarter on revenue of $1.64 billion, roughly in line with analysts' expectations. EPS were more than double the 16 cents earned in the same quarter last year, while revenue was up 1.6% from $1.61 billion a year ago.

The company added about 9,000 total customers in the quarter, for a total of about 3.13 million, led by gains in high-speed data customers. The gain of 19,000 high-speed data customers was larger than the additions in first-quarter 2015 and 2014 combined.

Adjusted operating cash flow increased 5.7% year over year to $472.2 million, and operating income increased 11.6% to $281.4 million.

Cablevision "continued to build momentum with solid improvements in service quality and subscriber growth, and achieved the best first-quarter performance in customer relationships since 2012," CEO James L. Dolan said in a Thursday statement.

Last September, Patrick Drahi's Altice announced it would pay $17.7 billion, including debt, to acquire Cablevision and combine the business with Suddenlink Communications, which Altice acquired in December. The deal would create the fourth-largest cable operator in the U.S.

"We are moving full speed ahead towards the completion of our transaction with Altice and are proceeding through the regulatory process as expected," Dolan said.

On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission approved the acquisition, noting that a panel including the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Defense also "have no objection to grant of the applications" for the merger.

Cablevision's roughly 3.1 million subscribers are clustered in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The deal still needs approval from regulators in New York and New York City. The company said in its earnings release that it expected the deal to close in the second quarter.

Cablevision shares, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, were down 6 cents, or 0.2%, to $34.39 on Thursday morning.

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