Troubling 3Q results and concerns over major debt sank Charter shares Thurs to a 52-week low of $1.16, down 35%. Although revenue rose across video, HSD and especially phone services, the MSO felt heavy downward pressure from a net loss of 40K basic subs, a $407mln net loss, and higher costs, which were blamed on programming and expansion expenditures. “Clearly we are not pleased with volume performance,” said pres/CEO Neil Smit. “We’re taking steps to regain RGU momentum, and in fact we saw a rebound of RGU trends through the quarter.” VoIP is certainly helping the cause: 100K subs were added in the Q and segment rev soared 154% to $94mln. And perhaps more importantly, phone service has been a solid pull-through for HSD services, said COO Mike Lovett, as four-fifths of the MSO’s 53K HSD adds came in markets that offer phone. A VoIP/HSD bundle is currently trialing and early results are promising, execs said. Still, overall operational improvements are needed, and Charter’s responding with a trial of faster HSD speeds, investment in customer services, and HD enhancements. 100 HD options (nets and VOD) are expected by year’s end. Adding urgency is competitive advertising, which has definitely become a force, said Smit. Especially in the L.A. and Dallas areas—where Time Warner Cable continues to struggle and Verizon has amped up its presence. The 2 markets hold 8% of the MSOs overall sub base but accounted for 25% of quarterly sub losses.

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