Cablevision Rides Ad Sales to a Solid Quarter

Cable's earnings season reaches a satisfying conclusion.

David Smith
David Smith
May 7, 2010 at 12:00AM

If you've been watching the soon-to-end earnings season closely, you no doubt observed mixed results, depending primarily on the sector(s) of your focus. I suppose I'm especially surprised this time around by the resurgence of the electronic media companies, and especially the cable operators.

As I told you not long ago, both Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) turned in stellar performances, with most categories growing their subscriber lists nicely. Even though I used to analyze this sector, both companies' advertising expanded far beyond my expectations.

Now it's Cablevision's (NYSE: CVC) turn to report. To coin a phrase, the New York Metropolitan area operator didn't let any grass grow under its own feet in the quarter.

The company's revenue rose 5.2% to $1.75 billion, from $1.67 million last year. More impressively, its income grew to $74.2 million, or $0.24 a share, compared with $21 million, or $0.07 a share, for the same quarter a year ago.

Telecommunications Services -- which includes basic video, interactive optimum video, high-speed data, and voice, along with commercial data and voice service and the programming segment -- chalked up a 20.6% growth in operating income. Keeping in step with its cable brethren, the company also posted a 35.1% jump in cable advertising.

Indeed, the only unit to slide during the quarter was Newsday, which includes the Long Island newspaper of the same name and several other properties. The unit recorded an operating loss of $2.5 million, compared with a $4.7 million loss in the year-ago quarter. The loss largely owed to a dip in newspaper advertising revenue.

Also during the quarter, Cablevision spun off its Madison Square Garden (NYSE: MSG) business to Cablevision shareholders. The unit includes Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the New York Knicks, the New York Rangers, and a number of other sports and entertainment entities.

I'm not ready to declare that Cablevision has won its battle with Verizon (NYSE: VZ), a contest that has been raging hot and heavy in certain parts of the New York Metropolitan area. And the same goes for its contest with satellite video provider DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV).

But for my money, the cable operators have distinguished themselves this earnings season. On that basis, I'd suggest that Fools keep a close eye on the group throughout 2010 and beyond.