Investors continue to have a bleak view of cable stocks, with Cablevision and Charter both bumping against new 52-week lows after releasing their 3Q earnings Thurs. The 2 had company, with Comcast and Time Warner Cable also hitting new lows Thurs. A broader market selloff started to ease toward the end of the day, helping Cablevision shares close down only 0.3%. Cablevision’s news was actually better than analysts concerned about telco competition had predicted, but Cablevision, which operates in Verizon Country, devoted much of its earnings call to discussing the telco rival. The MSO isn’t sweating its recently announced 4.7% video rate hike for next year, even if it is a larger increase than in recent years. “Our prices are currently lower than Verizon and they’ll continue to be lower than Verizon absent a change on their part,” CVC COO Tom Rutledge said during the MSO’s 3Q earnings call. He noted that Verizon raised its rates 7% last year. Cablevision estimates that the telco passes 1.1mln homes in its footprint and is offering video to 890K of those passings. 800K of those passing only came available for sale in the last 12 months, with construction appearing to have slowed, said Rutledge. CVC brass also downplayed the telco’s recent announcement that it will increase its HD offerings to 150 next year. “We think we have the capacity to carry as many HD channels as can be launched,” Rutledge said, pointing to CVC’s use of switched digital (especially meaningful considering its 83% digital penetration). “We just tested and proved out to ourselves that HD switched digital works.” CVC declined to provide further details. To date, the MSO offers about 70 channels via switched digital—mostly intl nets—and it offers 42 HD nets. Cablevision doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to launch wireless. “The cellular business is quite crowded,” CEO Jim Dolan said. “It really is somewhat of a commoditized product, although there does seem to be somewhat of an unending demand for it.” Bottom line: CVC will keep an eye on wireless, as well as other technologies such as WiFi, but it’s not ready to commit to anything right now. By the Numbers: CVC lost 16K basic subs, not as bad as some had feared. VoIP was strong with 91K additions, giving it a penetration of 32% of homes passed (2 out of 3 HSD homes take phone). “If this trend continues, the majority of our customers will be buying landline voice from us by the end of this year,” Rutledge said. Data adds were down to 52K from 72K a year ago, while digital adds totaled 35K. Revenue climbed 34% to $1.5bln over last year. Net loss grew to $79.3mln from $59.2mln. Not surprisingly, Dolan declined to discuss the failed bid to take Cablevision private.

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