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Time Warner Cable


CEO Glenn Britt painted a dreary business picture for investors Friday.

Britt said the current quarter was looking a lot like the slow growth the company had in the fourth quarter, and he wasn't very optimistic about the second half of the year.

For a quick review, back in February, Britt characterized the fourth quarter as having "dramatically slower" sales growth. In contrast, the company's first quarter was surprisingly solid and seen as a hopeful sign that cable would show stability amid a slumping economy.

But those hopes may be now dashed after Britt shared his new assessment during Sanford Bernstein Strategic Decisions conference Friday in New York.

Britt blamed the economy and a weak housing market for Time Warner Cable's troubles. He added that the slowdown was widespread and existed across all the company's services.

Making matters worse is the increase in competition from telcos like


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, which have introduced TV services in Time Warner Cable's biggest markets like New York.

One challenging development has come from the federally mandated switch to digital broadcasts. The long-awaited twice-delayed digital transition was thought to be a potential boom for cable shops as analog antenna customers looked to upgrade to digital TV services.

But anticipation of the switch next month has not sparked the rush to cable that some had anticipated. One reason, perhaps, is evident in the subscriber sales growth at the telcos and satellite TV shops like





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Dish Network.

The best measure of cable sales is the number of revenue generating units, or sales of different services. Time Warner Cable's RGU growth fell 12% in 2008 as the economy tanked and Verizon moved into New York. By the first quarter, the company's RGU growth fell 38% from year-ago levels.

This trend does not bode well for the second half of this year.