I've already told my Foolish friends that the nation's two largest cable companies, Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), each checked in with quarterly numbers that were solid, if unspectacular. Charter Communications' (Nasdaq: CHTR) results, on the other hand, were essentially a mix of lower financials and passable operating numbers.

For the quarter, Charter -- whose controlling shareholder is Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) co-founder Paul Allen -- reported a loss of $468 million, or $1.27 a share, compared to a $396 million loss ($1.08 a share) last year. The culprit in the company's expanded loss, which occurred despite a 9.9% increase in revenues for the quarter, was a one-time franchise impairment charge.

From an operating perspective, however, the company performed adequately. For instance, its telephone customers increased by 155,300 in the quarter and 513,000 for the year. That growth led to a 118% revenue increase in this segment during the quarter. At the same time, its high-speed data customer list grew by 50,500 in the quarter and 289,100 in the year, while 59,700 new digital video subscribers were added in the quarter, and 150,100 joined up in the year. Data and video revenues were up 17.3% and 2.5%, respectively, in the quarter.

Charter's ARPU (average revenue per customer) grew to $97.99, up 12.9% from the same quarter in 2006. At the same time, the company suffered a fate similar to many media companies when its advertising revenues slid by nearly 10% from the year-earlier period.

Charter primarily operates along the West Coast, in the Midwest, as well as in the Southeast. As such, the company, like the aforementioned larger cable operators, competes with satellite operators Dish (Nasdaq: DISH) and DirecTV (NYSE: DTV). Further, in certain locations, it's contesting with the likes of telephone overbuilder Verizon (NYSE: VZ).

With Charter's shares having descended nearly 80% from their high last summer, it's perhaps tempting to think about making hay by taking a position at a bargain-basement level. My preference, however -- were I looking for long-term profits from the sector -- would be to nibble very slowly at the shares of Comcast or Time Warner.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't have a financial stake in any of the companies mentioned. He does welcome your questions or comments. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.