Cablevision Systems Corp., a New York-area cable TV provider, swung to a loss in the fourth quarter as several factors including higher interest expenses, costs related to a contract dispute and a settlement with a former New York Knicks coach outweighed gains in its cable business.
The company, which also owns several cable TV channels, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and two professional sports teams, reported a loss of $23.9 million, or 8 cents per share, compared with earnings of $64.6 million, or 23 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.
Revenues rose 13 percent to $1.69 billion from $1.49 billion a year ago.
Cablevision's cable TV systems business continued to grow but was outweighed by non-operating factors and lower earnings at its two other business units, cable networks and Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks play.
Cablevision's interest expenses rose 23 percent to $232.5 million from $188.4 million a year ago after the company added $3 billion in debt to pay out a special dividend.
The company also recorded a $30 million expense from settling a contractual dispute with satellite maker Loral Space & Communications Inc.
Cable TV profits rose 12 percent on an 18 percent gain in revenues. Cablevision has been among the most successful cable companies at signing up customers for "triple play" combinations of video, high-speed Internet and telephone services provided through cable wires.
In the fourth quarter, Cablevision added 16,000 basic video customers, 75,000 data customers and 109,000 voice customers. Cablevision has about 3 million cable subscribers around the New York City area.
Despite the gain in cable, Cablevision's earnings from its two other main business units fell.
Operating income from Madison Square Garden fell by a little more than half to $35.2 million from $75.3 million a year ago, including $29.4 million in team-related expenses, which the company said was mainly related to "personnel transactions" at the New York Knicks basketball team.
Last fall, the company reached a settlement of $18.5 million with former Knicks coach Larry Brown after firing him following one season. The company didn't disclose what the other expenses consisted of.
Cablevision also owns the New York Rangers, the pro hockey team that plays at the Garden.
Earnings from the company's cable networks division, which includes AMC, IFC and WE, and regional sports networks, fell 22 percent to $19.2 million largely on higher programming costs. The company didn't provide a breakdown of those costs.
Its shares fell 57 cents, or 2 percent, to $28.43 in monring trading on the New York Stock Exchange.