Is the death of the cable industry exaggerated? Perhaps, as shares of Altice USA (NYSE:ATUS) experienced a nice pop in their first day of trading. The company, which raised over $1.9 billion in its IPO, saw its stock close at $32.71 per share on Thursday -- 9% over its IPO price of $30 per share.
The issue was sizable enough to make it the second largest IPO of the year next to that of Snap, which raised around $3.4 million in March.
Altice USA remains controlled by its parent company and near-namesake Altice, which is headquartered in Europe. Altice USA basically comprises two large cable operators Altice recently acquired: Cablevision and Suddenlink.
Does it matter?
Altice USA's first-day success will encourage investors who believe there is still potential in the cable industry. For a cabler, Altice USA is fairly well positioned -- despite its relative youth, it's already the fourth largest company in its business.
It is, however, well into the red on the bottom line. In the first three months of this year it booked a $76 million net loss, on revenue that crawled upward by only 1% on a year-over-year basis, to $2.3 billion. Typically for a company in this very capital-intensive field, Altice USA also has a high level of debt -- more than $24 billion at the end of the aforementioned period. The company said it is to use its share of the IPO proceeds to retire some of that debt, but the pile will remain high.
It's difficult to succeed in the cable business, particularly considering many customers are eager to cut the cord and switch to streaming services. The bulls are obviously making an early charge with Altice USA, but I'm not convinced the stock is a good long-term play.