Altice USA says it remains confident in its core cable business, especially broadband
Altice USA reported a rise in broadband demand across its network, leading to its best-ever residential broadband adds. Although the company withdrew most financial guidance, it reiterated its commitment to $1.7 billion in stock buy-backs this year.
Altice USA reported that its unique residential customer relationships grew 0.6% year-over-year in the first quarter, or 0.8% if Altice Advantage, its program for low-income customers, was included. In residential broadband, the company reported its best-ever quarterly net additions of around 50,000, compared to 37,000 during the same time last year. When Altice Advantage customers were included, broadband net additions were around 60,000.
Altice Mobile, which launched in September 2019, now has around 110,000 mobile lines. The MVNO gained 41,000 net new customers during the quarter and generated $18 million in revenue.
“We have reported exceptional operational performance in Q1 including best-ever residential customer relationship and broadband net additions. Our first quarter results and preliminary April data have given us confidence in our core cable business, especially in broadband,” said Dexter Goei, Altice USA CEO, in a statement on the results. However, he does expect to see impacts from the overall economic conditions begin to affect Altice’s news and advertising business and its small-to-medium business segment.
The company narrowed its overall loss for the quarter, from a loss of $25 million in the first quarter of 2019 to a loss of about $0.9 million in 2020’s first quarter. As the market, and Altice’s share price, plummeted in response to the pandemic, the company sped up its anticipated purchases and had made over $1 billion in repurchases by April 30.
Altice said that it has closed 86% of its retail stores and reduced its marketing spending, which Goei said on a conference call with investors “is impacting our mobile sales and handset volumes in particular.” Altice is shifting its focus toward digital sales and adding more online support tools; by 2021, it expects to have more self-installation options. In the meantime, the company is navigating how to safely manage techs and installations in the field. Permitting delays due to COVID-19 closures are impacting Altice USA’s fiber-to-the-home network rollouts, the company reported, and will mean reduced capital expenditures this year.
Goei said that broadband-only usage was about 400 gigabits per subscribers, and now Altice is above 500 gigabits per subscriber: a 25% jump in usage, which he expects to grow. He said that Altice has seen a greater surge of up to 35-40% at times in the Eastern U.S., compared to a bump of about 15% in the west.
“We invested a lot in our network in the last two years and it’s performing very well right now with plenty of capacity to handle these increased usage trend,” Goei said on the quarterly call.
Altice USA reported a 20% decline in cellular data consumption in the past month, due to an increase shift to Wi-Fi usage as people stay home. Asked about when Altice mobile subscribers will move to the New T-Mobile’s network, Goei said that discussions started about a month ago and that the two companies “are in discussions on 5G as well.”
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