As Cablevision‘s cable segment continued in 4Q and ’06 to score highly in several earnings metrics—including 19% growth in 4Q net revenue to $1.08bln and a 15% rise in operating income to $201mln—it’s a shame the division can’t suit up for the moribund NY Knicks. The co added 282K RGUs in 4Q, including 109K voice subs (+10%), 82K digital (+4%), 75K HSD (+4%) and 16K basic (+1%), representing the 11th straight Q of basic sub growth. Rainbow‘s 4Q rev rose 12% to $237mln while ad rev jumped for every net, pres/CEO Jim Dolan said, powered by a 28% collective ad rev surge for AMC, IFC and WE tv. Dolan called ’06 CVC’s "most successful year in history" during a Tues earnings call but declined to comment on whether his family is formulating another privatization plan, or on Rainbow’s future. CVC will join many of its cable brethren this year in attacking the SMB market, said COO Tom Rutledge, who noted that the MSO’s network passes 600K businesses and has a "capability to deliver this market today." Most of the forecasted 850K-950K RGU adds for ’07 will come from data and voice, said Rutledge, as digital penetration is currently at 78%. One-third of CVC customers are triple-play adherents. Several analysts, however, didn’t cheer the numbers. UBS cited underperforming sub metrics, stating that "2007 guidance is indicative of a slowdown [this year], in-line with our thesis given Cablevision’s higher rates of product penetration relative to the sector." The firm maintained its ‘neutral 2" rating on CVC with a $31 price target. Sanford Bernstein believes CVC’s momentum isn’t sustainable, largely because of "a Verizon competitive threat that is certain to be larger at Cablevision than for any other cable company (and by a large margin)." Verizon passes 850K HHs within CVC’s footprint, Rutledge said, and is expected to increase this number by roughly 7% per year. "We will be proficient in winning customers back," he said. As for the Dolan family, Pali Capital believes privatization of cable and/or Rainbow assets "is just a matter of time." UBS agreed at least in regard to Rainbow, citing a lack of ’07 guidance for the segment that "could imply that management is looking for alternatives for the networks."

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