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Cablevision reports first-quarter loss

Cablevision Systems Corp. headquarters in Bethpage on Nov.

Cablevision Systems Corp. headquarters in Bethpage on Nov. 19, 2010. Credit: Bloomberg News

Shares of Cablevision Systems Corp., the fifth-largest U.S. cable provider by subscribers, rose Thursday after the company forecast improved profits following a first-quarter loss.

The shares advanced 0.78 percent to $15.59 in trading Thursday. They recovered after dropping as much as 8.5 percent earlier on the loss in the three months through March. The loss was due in part to a decline in video subscriptions.

Following the earnings report, chief financial officer Gregg Seibert said during a conference call that price increases, higher advertising revenues and declines in operational costs would boost earnings in the current quarter. Adjusted operating cash flow -- a measure of profit that excludes stock compensation and other items -- will rise by at least 10 percent over the first quarter's $343.4 million, he said.

Bethpage-based Cablevision, which owns Newsday, reported a first-quarter loss of 5,000 video customers and a gain of 23,000 broadband subscribers. Analysts had estimated a gain of 24,000 broadband customers. The company is still recovering from superstorm Sandy, which caused damage and thousands of cancellations in October. Sandy will have no impact on Cablevision's financial performance this quarter, Seibert said.

Cablevision reported a per-share loss of 6 cents in the first quarter, trailing the 4-cent average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg. The net loss was $16.1 million, compared with profit of $57.2 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier.

The company didn't buy back any shares in the first quarter in order to pay for damages and costs from Sandy.

Sales fell less than 1 percent to $1.52 billion. Analysts had estimated $1.58 billion.

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