Seeking Alpha
We cover over 5K calls/quarter
Profile| Send Message|
( followers)  
TRANSCRIPT SPONSOR
Better Than AdSense

Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE:CVC)

Q4 2006 Earnings Call

February 27, 2007 10:00 am ET

Executives:

Pat Armstrong – Senior Vice President, Investor Relations

Jim Dolan – President and CEO

Hank Ratner - Vice Chairman

Tom Rutledge – COO

Mike Huseby – CFO

Josh Sapan – President and CEO, Rainbow Media

John Bickham - President of Cabling Communications

Analysts:

Doug Mitchelson - Deutsche Bank Securities

Aryeh Bourkoff – UBS

Jason Bazinet – Citigroup

Craig Moffett - Sanford Bernstein

Benjamin Swinberg – Morgan Stanley

Jeffrey Wlodarczak - Wachovia Capital Markets

Brian Kraft - Credit Suisse

Katherine Styponias – Prudential

Jessica Reif-Cohen - Merrill Lynch

David Joyce - Miller Tabak & Co

Richard Greenfield - Pali Research

Presentation:

Operator

Welcome to the CVC 2006 fourth quarter conference call. After the speaker’s remarks, there will be a question and answer period. If you would like to pose a question at this time, please press * and the number 1 on your telephone keypad. If you would like to withdraw your question, press the # key.

Thank you. It is now my pleasure to turn the floor over to your host, Pat Armstrong, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations. Ma’am you may begin your conference.

TRANSCRIPT SPONSOR

Better Than AdSense

What if there was a way to promote your company to a perfectly targeted group of potential customers, partners, acquirers and investors? What if you could tailor your pitch to them at the moment of maximum interest? And what if you could do this for a no-brainer price?

This is exactly what Seeking Alpha is offering with transcript sponsorships.

Seven types of companies are sponsoring earnings transcripts on Seeking Alpha:

1. Company sponsors its own earnings call transcript (example).

2. Company sponsors partner's transcript (example).

3. Company sponsors competitor's transcript (example).

4. Issuer-sponsored research firm sponsors client's transcript (example).

5. Investment newsletter sponsors transcripts of successful stock picks (example).

6. IR firm sponsors transcript of micro-cap company (example).

7. Consulting company sponsors company's transcript in sector of interest (example).

Your company's name and promotion could have been on this transcript! Learn more, or email Zack Miller for details.

Pat Armstrong

Thank you. Good morning and welcome to Cablevision’s fourth quarter and full year 2006 earnings conference call. Joining us this morning are members of the Cable Vision Executive team, including; Jim Dolan, President and CEO, Hank Ratner, Vice Chairman, Tom Rutledge, Chief Operating Officer, Mike Huseby, Chief Financial Officer, Josh Sapan, President and CEO of Rainbow Media, and John Bikham, President of Cabling Communications.

Following a discussion of the company’s fourth quarter and full year 2006 results, we will open the call for questions. If you do not have a copy of today’s earnings release you may obtain one from our website at cablevision.com.

Please take note of the following. This discussion of Cablevision's results and any discussion of the company's 2007 outlook may contain statements that constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or results and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ. Please refer to the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a discussion of risks and uncertainties. The company disclaims any obligation to update the forward-looking statements that may be discussed during this call.

Let me point out that on page six of today’s earnings release we provide consolidated operations data and a reconciliation of adjusted operating cash flow or AOCF to operating income. I would now like to introduce Jim Dolan, President and CEO of Cablevision.

Jim Dolan

Good morning. I’m pleased to share with you today some of our highlights for 2006. This past year marked the most successful year in the company’s history for Cablevision’s core cable business. The company continued to achieve record breaking results with annual RGU growth of more than 1.4 million units.

In 2006 Cablevision delivered four more consecutive quarters of basic subscriber growth making this the 11th straight quarter of basic subscriber growth. We also surpassed two million high speed internet customers. We increased our number of optimum voice customers by more than 65% and our digital television penetration rate climbed to an industry leading 78% of basic customers. In fact, we continue to have industry leading penetrations across all our product categories.

For 2006 this impressive growth helped our cable business to deliver remarkable net revenue and AOCF growth, year over year of 18% and 19% respectively. Also in 2006 our Madison Square Garden division added NewYork’s legendary Pecan theatre to its lineup of world class venues, successfully rebranded MSG network as both a sports and entertainment network, and hosted an unrivalled slate of events that continue to make us the leader in New York live entertainment.

On the programming front, Long Island celebrated 20 years of delivering local news. Our original movie, Broken Trail generated AMC’s highest rating ever while all of Rainbow’s national networks continued to see advertising revenues rise. These achievements helped drive Cablevision 2006 consolidated revenue to nearly $6 billion. Consolidated revenue for the year grew nearly 15% to $5.9 billion and AOCF increased 13% to $1.8 billion. Fourth quarter Cablevision consolidated revenue grew more than 13% to just under $1.7 billion and AOCF increased nearly 8% to $515 million. I am very grateful to our operating team for a very successful year.

Turning to 2007 we are well positioned going forward, despite increased competition, we are confident in our prospects for continued growth. Now I’d like to turn the call over to Tom Rutledge, our Chief Operating Officer who will discuss the results for our Telecommunication segment.

Tom Rutledge

Thank you Jim and good morning. As Jim stated our core cable business continued to generate excellent results in 2006. For the fourth quarter, revenue and AOCF increased by 19% as compared to 17% in the fourth quarter of ’05. For the full year, revenue increased 18% and AOCF rose 19% compared to ’05. Much of this growth comes from increases in average revenue per subscriber.

RPS, for the fourth quarter RPS increased by $4,17. For the full year RPS increased by $15 or 15% which marked our 15th consecutive quarter of year over year double digit percentage RPS growth. RPS growth clearly illustrates the success we’re having with our three product strategy. As of December 31st ’06 more than a third of our basic video customers had subscribed to our three product offering. This continued consumer demand along with lower churn rates is proof of how compelling to video, voice and data bundling is to our customers.

Cable Television capital spending totaled $142 million for the fourth quarter and $777 million for the full year. As we have stated in the past, consumer premises equipment continues to make up the majority of the spending as we deploy digital boxes, HD boxes, DVR’s and modems to service our expanding the customer base. Now, let me touch briefly on what we’ve achieved in each of our services.

Starting with Video. The fourth quarter marked our 11th consecutive quarter of basic video subscriber games as we added more than 16 000 new subscribers. In 2006 Cablevision added more than 100,000 basic video subscribers, representing a growth rate of 3.3%. As a result we ended the year with basic video penetration of 68.5%, a full percentage point above 2005.

Our digital video service, IO, added more than 82,000 customers in the fourth quarter which brought our digital video penetration rate for ’06 to more than 78% of basic subscribers. We gained 13 points of digital penetration through 2006.

Consistent with nearly 80% penetration, new digital converters will become less significant, a factor in capital spending in the future. While digital subs have been counted as RGUs the vast majority of the incremental growth in units has been through triple play acquisitions where the units were included in the advertised price for the triple play and not through revenue related upgrade. This should mean that revenue and cash flow in the future will be greater than in the past, and capital per RGU should be lower. Cablevision also nearly doubled its number of HD video subscribers in 2006. We ended the fourth quarter with 6600 and 34,000 HD customers, up 21% from September, and 95% since 2005.

Now turning to optimum online. As Jim stated our high speed data internet service optimum online surpassed the two million subscriber milestone ending the year with

2.039 million customers. We recorded a net gain of more than 75,000 customers in the fourth quarter. At the end of December, our optimum online penetration of homes passed was 45% and our optimum online customers as a percent of video subscribers reached 65%.

Optimum voice continued to see a strong a demand for the service which added more than 100,000 customers in the fourth quarter for a total of 478,000 for the year. 2006 optimum voice increased its penetration by ten percentage points, ending the year with a penetration of homes passed of 26.5%. Optimum voice as a percentage of basic customers ended the year at nearly 40%.

We’re also pleased with the early results of our entry into the small and medium size business market. We estimate that our completed network passes more than 600,000 businesses. For us this is largely an untapped market that provides us with tremendous opportunity. While we’re still in early stages of this business, we look forward to a successful 2007 primarily because our planned architecture has the capability to deliver these services today. We’re offering an attractive package of services to this market at a compelling value and because this business is concentrating on high margin services which generates a healthy return.

I think it’s important to note that we experienced exceptional growth in video, data and voice at the same time Telco TV was launched in our footprint. We’ve been in a competitive world for a long time, confronted with satellite companies vying for market share. We’ve also competed with Telco over builders in the past. We’ve done well because we focus attention on our customers and our competition and we work hard to develop the best products and services at a better value that our customers want and enjoy.

This is not going to change. We’ve not taken our eyes off satellite and yet we’re focused on what the Telcos are doing. We track their plant construction, we follow the franchising process, and we monitor their marketing and sales activities and keep track of their customers in our service areas.

Our cable plant has been in that service area for three years now and first activated 20 months ago. At the end of 2006 they had activated approximately 850,000 homes past and achieved any video penetration of approximately less than 3%.

There are two communities within our footprint of where Verizon has actively begun selling video for a full year. Masapequa Park and Naick, together they have roughly 16,000 homes past. After a year of very aggressive marketing by Telco TV in these two communities, our penetration of video subs to homes past has declined to approximately 5.5% penetration.

And at the same time, our high-speed data has increased by 2% of penetration and optimal voice by almost 10 points. Recently, we've begun to have success winning back Telco TV customers, and our experience to date is not inconsistent with overbuilds we have seen historically.

Looking forward to 2007, our outlook for cable television is as follows; basic subscriber growth is (inaudible)%, RGU growth of approximately 850,000- 950,000 units, total revenue percentage growth rate in the mid-teens range, and AOCF percentage growth rate in the mid-teens, and capital spending of approximately $600-650 million.

As I noted before, our RGU profile going forward will rely less on capital intensive digital converter growth, and more on the high margin voice and data services in both the residential and commercial markets.

Our cable operations have grown to the point where they represent the vast majority of our AOC, approaching 90% of AOC up in 2006. Accordingly, we're providing 2007 outlook formations for cable operations only.

I would now like to turn the call over to Josh Sapan who will discuss Rainbow's results.

Josh Sapan

Thank you. Let me begin with AMC, IFC, and WE-TV. For the fourth quarter at our national programming networks, we increased 12% to $160 million. And AOC for the fourth quarter was $84 million up 26% as compared to the prior year. These results reflect the 28% increase in quarterly advertising revenue and a 4% increase in affiliate revenue. The increase advertising revenue is a result of higher overall sell-out rate at AMC and WE-TV and increased sponsorship sales at IFC.

For the full year of 2006, the AMC, IFC and WE-TV combined revenue increased 8% to $2 million and AOC up 9% to $260 million. A few of the highlights for 2006 are advertising revenue growth of approximately 19.6% for the year, increases in viewing subscribers for AMC, IFC and WE TV, that includes AMC Canada, and achievements in the viewer rating of the mini-series "Broken Trail" which was the highest rated show on basic cable in 2006.

Turning now to Rainbow's other programming businesses, which primarily include Fox Sports Network regional sports businesses, News 12 IFC entertainment, the Boom HD networks and our VOD networks and sports school, fourth quarter net revenues for this group increased 12% to $80 million and the AOCF deficit increased from $24 million to $30 million. The revenue increase was mainly attributable to Boom HD Fuze and regional sports. AOCF deficit increases and production costs where offset by the higher revenue.

For the year 2006, revenue increased 5% to $307 million and the AOCF deficit increased by $19 million to $108 million for this group.

During 2006, Rainbow's other programming businesses made strides. A few highlights of the year were, advertising revenue at Fuze increased 23% while subs grew by 18%. Sports school viewing percent increased by more than 60% totaling $20 million at year end. And IFC entertainment received two Academy Award nominations and two Independent Spirit Award nominations, the most of any film company.

I'd now like to turn it over to Hank Ratner who will discuss the results for Madison Square Garden.

Hank Ratner

Thanks Josh. Let me begin with the MSG financials. MSG's fourth quarter revenue at $339.6 million was essentially flat compared to the fourth quarter 2005, while AOCF declined 37.4% to $53.6 million. This decline was largely due to higher related expenses and primarily personnel transactions. For the full year of 2006, revenue increased by more than 6% to $854 million, while AOCF declined by 39.9% $72.2 million.

Some of MSG 2006 highlights include high profile concerts such as Barbara Streisand and Eric Clapton, along with events like the Latin Grammy's taking place in the garden in the fourth quarter. MSG Entertainment announced a new partnership with Circe de Sole in October of 2006. Circe will create its first family oriented production ever specifically for the theatre of Madison Square Garden which will have a ten-week, multi-year run starting in November 2007. This will build on the momentum of family shows like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and Annie, and to generate higher revenue on the AOCF in the fourth quarter of 2006 compared to the prior year period.

Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall continue their reign as the world renowned showplaces. The two venues took the spots in their respective categories on Billboard's Top Grossing Venues in 2006. MSG and Radio City were also named the Arena of the Year and the Theater of the Year respectively by Pulse Star Magazine.

As Jim previously mentioned, we closed a deal that added another New York landmark, the Beacon Theater, to our lineup of legendary venues. The Beacon opened up to our new management on January 1, 2007. In October 2006, the recently re-launched MSG network launched a new sports and entertainment wrap-up show called MSG-NY, which in the fourth quarter outperformed its predecessors in the ratings. Id also like to congratulate the network on being nominated for 15 New York Emmy Awards and winning 10 Promax awards. With regard to the teams, the Nicks and the Rangers are both fighting hard to make the play-offs, but more importantly continuing the rebuilding process.

I would like now to turn the call over to our CFO, Mike Huseby who will address the company's financial position.

Mike Huseby

Thanks Hank. As a result of Cablevision’s strong year operationally, we ended 2006 in a sound financial position. At the end of 2006, our net debt balance was $11.1 billion resulting in a consolidated debt to cash flow ratio of 5.8 times. The CFC holdings restricted group leverage ratio was 5.3 times, and Rainbow National Services ratio was, under a leverage test, four times. All of these ratios were with in their established limits. The company generated free cash flow from continuing operations of $75 million for 2006 and its consolidated cash position as of year end was approximately $549 million.

2006 was an active financing year for Cablevision. In February we refinanced a CFC holdings bank facility at $2.2 million. In March and April we financed and distributed the $10 special share dividend to all of our shareholders of just under $3 billion. Finally in July, we refinanced Rainbow national services with the new $1.6 billion credit facility.

We believe we have entered 2007 with the paramount of financial flexibility and going forward we will explore refinancing and other financial opportunities to strengthen our financial position.

Operator, we would now like to open our call to questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you. The floor is now open for questions. If you do have a question, please press "star" "one" on your telephone keypad at this time. If at any point your question has been answered, you may remove yourself from the queue by pressing the "pound" key. Once again that is "star" "one" one your telephone keypad at this time. One moment while I compile a Q&A roster.

Our first question is coming from Doug Mitchelson from Deutsche Bank Securities, please go ahead.

Doug Mitchelson - Deutsche Bank Securities

Thank you very much. Tom, the slow-down in RGU that's expected in 2007, are you assuming rising turn in your assumptions or is this purely higher penetrations causing pure growth ads? And also, as part of that, have you considered lowering the triple play price point at all of the $70 or $80 a month? Would that have any impact on your marketing efforts? Thanks.

Tom Rutledge

I think the biggest actor in what you just described of RGU growth is the fact that we've achieved extremely high digital penetration and most of future RGU growth will come from data ads and voice ads and video ads as opposed to digital. Digital is now our standard converter. Almost all connects that we make, over 90% include the digital box, and essentially we will have completed the digital upgrade in '07. That gives us a lot of capabilities going forward. It allows us to manage our channel space and spectrum a lot more efficiently.

For instance, we launched 60 channels of foreign-language programming last year, and using Switch technology and other bandwidth acclimation technology that digital penetration affords us, we can grow the business with other kinds of video revenues, and the other kinds of RGUs that I just mentioned; data and voice, going forward.

Some of the kinds of things that are driving growth in video growing forward, growth in RPS, will be things like DVRs, Spanish-language or foreign-language tiers, and other tier products, SPOD products that we have launched on our digital platform, and ultimately interactive advertising. All of that is a function of digital growth, but none of those are technically RGUs, as currently defined by the industry.

And with regard to churn, while we don't forecast churn going forward, you can see what our churn has been over last year, and there is no significant change in that, as far as we can tell.

Doug Mitchelson - Deutsche Bank Securities

Given those comments, can I just briefly follow up? We shouldn't expect a big moderation, then, in your voice-net ads in 2007? Is that fair?

Tom Rutledge

We haven't broken that out, specifically.

Doug Mitchelson - Deutsche Bank Securities

Alright, well, thanks.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Aryeh Bourkoff with UBS. Please go ahead.

Aryeh Bourkoff – UBS

Thank you very much, guys. Good morning. Just two questions: One, on CapEx, it looks like your CapEx, guys, for '07 does come down on an absolute, as well as a per-sub basis. How much of that is variable in '07 versus fixed? And do you envision having to look to any sort of capacity enhancement as you move forward, like the one you did last year when you boosted broadband speeds? Just trying to get a sense of the CapEx tied into the subscriber growth.

And then secondly, I noticed you didn't put out guidance for Rainbow in '07 which is not typical. What should we read into that? I mean, what are your plans for the Rainbow assets in 2007, and why not the guidance? Thanks.

Tom Rutledge

Well, on the capital piece, you know, we are going to be placing less digital boxes out because of our penetration, and therefore capitals costs are going down on a per-sub basis, and on a per-RGU basis. And because the most expensive RGU we've been placing out has been digital set-top boxes per digital RGU. So the margins go up per RGU, the revenue per RGU goes up, and the capital cost per RGU goes down as a result of the mix.

And we don't anticipate, and have no plans to spend capital to change our network. Our network is a very robust state with the highest high-speed services being offered on a fiber-cable network. And the Switch video product that we installed last year is already fully in place and capable of being expanded without significant additional capital. There is no significant infrastructure capital going forward in planning.

Mike Huseby

Aryeh, this is Mike Huseby. With respect to the Rainbow National Services’ guidance that hasn't been provided, there's nothing to read into that, other than what was already stated which was that cable operations have grown to a point now where they're almost 90% in 2006, in cash flow about 70% in revenues. The questions we get revolve around cable. Also, the RNS guidance was established at a time when there was an RMG tracking stock, and there were plans to spin off Rainbow, etc. And we just believe the guidance we're giving going forward is the relevant guidance to give.

Aryeh Bourkoff – UBS

Are there any plans for what the company intends to do with the Rainbow going forward, whether it's taking it private, or strategic transactions, or do you think it remains part of the overall company for a while?

Mike Huseby

No comment.

Aryeh Bourkoff – UBS

OK, thank you very much.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Jason Bazinet with Citigroup. Please go ahead.

Jason Bazinet - Citigroup

Just have a couple of question on CapEx, as well. I believe the cable accounting standards stipulates that you can capitalize a truck roll when it's a first-time installation to a home, whether that's analog, digital, data, or phone. And my question is, is there any change in the capitalized truck-roll costs from '06 to your guidance for '07?

And then, secondly, I was a little bit confused in your commentary. Was there a near-term plan to essentially reclaim the analog spectrum by pushing digital to 100%? Or you're just sort-of going to let the business migrate organically? Thank you.

Mike Huseby

Jason, it's Mike Huseby. First off, with respect to the first part of your question, your understanding of cable accounting, generally speaking, the way you described it, is correct and that's how we account for our truck rolls. We're not breaking out, obviously, specific components of our CapEx, other than as set forth in the earnings release and that proper forecast accounting is reflected in that guidance.

Jason Bazinet - Citigroup

OK.

Tom Rutledge

And in regard to your second question about bandwidth reclamation, you know, we have been reclaiming bandwidth. In New York City, as of this moment, we are 100% digital, and we are 100% simulcast digital throughout our footprint, and so we have been reclaiming bandwidth and launching new services. While we won't tell you what we're going to do, we have that capability.

Jason Bazinet - Citigroup

Okay, but there's nothing in the CapEx number now that anticipates going to 100% digital.

Tom Rutledge

The CapEx and where we are already, in terms of digital penetration, gets us very close to that, automatically.

Jason Bazinet - Citigroup

Okay, thank you so much.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Craig Moffett with Sanford Bernstein. Please go ahead.

Craig Moffett - Sanford Bernstein

Hi, good morning. Tom, one of the things you didn't talk about was HD and digital-video recorder penetration. Could you please update us on those two topics, and give us any update, if one's available on the progress of network DVRs?

Tom Rutledge

The status of network DVRs has not changed since the last call, it's still in for a judge. The case has been heard, and we're waiting a ruling. We don't publicly disclose what our DVR penetration is and we have not given out those numbers in the past, so we're not going to do that today. With regard to HD, I did give the HD number, I believe, in my script…as a percentage of set-tops, percentage of customers, it's around 20%.

Craig Moffett - Sanford Bernstein

And your expectations for '07 for HD, how did that factor into your CapEx? Because they don't show up as RGUs, but obviously they are more expensive than set-top boxes.

Tom Rutledge

That's correct, and it's in there. And generally, what we're managing is HD growth, and additionally, if an HD set is purchased by a customer and they have a standard-definition digital box, the standard-def digital box may be returned to us and gets re-applied in other places. So the incremental capital of HD as you return to SD boxes, is only about $20.

Craig Moffett - Sanford Bernstein

OK, thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Benjamin Swinberg with Morgan Stanley. Please go ahead.

Benjamin Swinberg – Morgan Stanley

Thanks for taking the question. Thanks a lot for the guidance Tom of mid-teens revenue growth for cable. If I take the high end of the basic sub growth at 2% there's a chance for a 13, 14-ish% growth in revenue per sub. My understanding is that you did not raise basic rates in '07 and you did not charge incrementally for High Def. So, are the items you listed earlier – the DVR growth, international tiers, and SVOD – is that really driving the ARPU expansion, as well as obviously the RGU growth, which is slowing down. Or are there any other pricing changes that you're making this year, that are missing, that are factored into that number?

Tom Rutledge

Your basic assessment is correct. You know, there are more revenue drivers in the business than just RGUs.

Benjamin Swinberg – Morgan Stanley

OK, if I can ask just one follow-up then. You mentioned that you're all Digital in New York City already. Can I take that as a, there's no analog broadcast going on in those systems, or in those nodes, at all, and that you have put set-top boxes on every TV set for every customer you have in that footprint? Or have you simply put a digital box on the primary set? Do they not receive a basic broadcast anymore unless they call up for a box.

Tom Rutledge

In New York City every outlet except for a lifeline basic which is actually quite small number has a box.

Benjamin Swinberg – Morgan Stanley

OK. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question is coming from Geoff Wlodarczak with Wachovia Capital Markets. Please go ahead.

Jeffrey Wlodarczak - Wachovia Capital Markets

Good morning. Two questions for Tom. Tom, just to clarify a point, would it be fair to say given your comments on the voluntary end of the visual conversion that digital net ads will be down substantially in ’07 which would account for the difference between the RGU consensus and actually what you’re guiding to? And then second, do you still feel very strongly about SME growing at a similar rate to residential data and when do you plan on breaking out SME separately? Thanks.

Tom Rutledge

Well, the last part of your question, we haven’t decided if and when to break it out and at this point we don’t. And yes, we’re very excited about the opportunity. There are 600,000 businesses that we passed. We’ve been actively marketing them and getting traction in the marketplace. We’re excited about the prospects. The first part of your question I didn’t understand.

Jeffrey Wlodarczak - Wachovia Capital Markets

Basically what I’m asking is, because you’re at the end of your digital conversion and you’re just relying on sort of organic growth to drive new digital subs does that mean your digital net visions are going to be down substantially in ’07 off of ’06 for the net basis?

Tom Rutledge

Digital set top box? Yes.

Jeffrey Wlodarczak - Wachovia Capital Markets

That’s right, which would account for the difference. Some people are worried about what you’re guiding to in RGUs but if it’s just a function of you voluntarily showing digital conversion then your RGU…you guys is good.

Tom Rutledge

That’s the point I was trying to make, I guess earlier.

Jeffrey Wlodarczak - Wachovia Capital Markets

Just wanted to clarify that. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Brian Kraft with Credit Suisse. Please go ahead.

Brian Kraft - Credit Suisse

Thank you. Just two quick questions, now that you’ve expanded the capacity of your network through the switch video roll out, can you talk about your plans to expand the HD channel line up? And also, a question on Verizon, do you know how much of your footprint today either Verizon has built Fibre 2 or is currently building Fibre 2 as a percentage of your total footprint?

Tom Rutledge

Yes. As of today, they’ve activated approximately 850,000 passings in our service footprint out of 4.6 million homes passed. And they’ve been building for three years and their construction pace, should they continue at the current speed, is about 6-7 % of passings a year.

Brian Kraft - Credit Suisse

When you say they’ve activated 150,000, is that for video or is that…

Tom Rutledge

850,000. For video they’ve actually activated approximately 620,000 at the year end for video because of legal restrictions on their franchising authority.

Brian Kraft - Credit Suisse

OK. Great. And then could you comment on the plans on the HD side?

Tom Rutledge

We have aggressive capabilities to expand our HD line up and we have architected our plant with switch video and our digital strategy in such a way to have virtually unlimited capacity for HD and we’re looking to expand our offerings and we’ll announce those in due time.

Brian Kraft - Credit Suisse

OK. Great. Thank you.

Operator

Katherine Styponias with Prudential your line is live. Please proceed with your questions.

Katherine Styponias - Prudential

Hi. Thank. Two questions. First, Tom I was wondering if you’d be willing to articulate on your guidance for cable for 2007? How much of the growth are you expecting to come from small and mid size businesses and whether or not you expect that business to be profitable in ’07 and if not in ’07 how long before you do break even?

And then the second question is just more of a strategic one. Perhaps, Jim you can answer it. As you look out into the future and you look at wire line trends, how important is wireless as a part of your asset mix? Should we expect you to be more active in certain spectrum auctions that are coming up for sale and/or potentially partnering with wireless partners? If you could just talk from a 30,000 foot view, what your viewpoint on wireless is and whether or not it’s an important part of the company. Thanks.

Tom Rutledge

The first part of your question on guidance and estimated returns…we will not break out and have not broken out so I can’t help you there but it is a profitable business with high margins and relatively low capital per ad and so it quickly turns profitable.

Jim Dolan

As far as wireless goes, it’s yet to be proven whether wireless is going to be an effective part of a bundle to offer to the home and we continue to study our options. We have quite a few options as far as wireless, some of which you’ve already mentioned. We won’t rule out us participating in an auction but it’s more likely that we’d go with one of the other options, the partnering, doing some other strategic move versus building another facility in our footprint. There are quite a few facilities already.

Katherine Styponias - Prudential

Thank you.

Operator

And our next question is coming from Jessica Reif-Cohen with Merrill Lynch. Please go ahead.

Jessica Reif-Cohen - Merrill Lynch

Thank you. Two questions. One, on interactive advertising. Are you working with Comcast and Times Warner Cables so that you can offer advertising as a national buy?

And second Tom, you said that you were starting to win back video subscribers in your territory. Can you be more specific about your strategies?

Tom Rutledge

Well, with regard to interactive advertising, we’ve had conversations with other SMOs about national sales and at this point that’s pretty rudimentary in terms of how that’s done but I think in the long run there’s an opportunity there.

With regard to win backs, we’ve been very successful in winning satellite customers back with a variety of strategies and we’ve begun to employ those against the Telco customers with both DSL and video and we’re gaining traction very similarly to what we did in the satellite arena. So our expectation is that we’ll be proficient at winning customers back and keeping their penetrations low inside of our footprint.

Jessica Reif-Cohen - Merrill Lynch

Can I just follow up on interactive advertising. What do you think the time frame is before it becomes a meaningful portion of your advertising business?

Tom Rutledge

It won’t be a meaningful piece in ’07. Or a material piece. But I think in the outyears it could be significant.

Jessica Reif-Cohen - Merrill Lynch

Thank you.

Pat Armstrong

Operator, we have time for two more questions.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from David Joyce with Miller Tabak. Please go ahead.

David Joyce - Miller Tabak & Co

Thank you. A question on Rainbow and national services. Do you have any significant affiliate deals coming up in the next year or so and what sort of capacity do you have for more advertising inventory or are you pretty fulled up there?

Tom Rutledge

We have a continuing range of deals that come up on a regular basis. We don’t talk about them individually for reasons that are probably obvious but I think we’re in good and stable shape. In terms of advertising capacity we are generally a couple of minutes under what the norm is in the business so that is an option for our future on AMC.

David Joyce - Miller Tabak & Co

Good. Thank you.

Operator

Our last question is coming from Rich Greenfield with Pali Capital. Please go ahead.

Richard Greenfield - Pali Research

Hi, two questions. One relates to your capital expenditures. You talked about a number…$600-650 million for the cable business. I assume that excludes the light pass business.

In 2006 cable specifically was about 87% of your total capital expenditures. Should we expect something in that same range of it being, call it in the high 80’s as a percentage of your total CapEx spend in 2007 or does that change significantly.

And then, two really a question for Jim in terms of how you think about what you want to do with the cash flow of this business. You’re going to start generating some pretty substantial free cash flow in 2007 and 2008. Could you outline how you think about what to do with it? Would you go back to the dividend you issued in early 2006? Would you look at share repurchase, or would you simply deliver? Thanks.

Tom Rutledge

The first part of your question I think we counted capital only and there's no direct ratio linkage between it in light pass and we're not getting life path guidance.

Jim Dolan

Second question, I guess the answer's yes, any of those things are possible.

Richard Greenfield - Pali Research

Do you prefer one method versus another? You obviously chose dividend in 2006.

Jim Dolan

No, I think it a lot depends on markets where the price and the stock is, were we get best returns for our shareholders, that's what we look at.

Richard Greenfield - Pali Research

And as a de-lever would you and the CVC family reconsider taking cable vision private again?

Jim Dolan

Not talking for the family today.

Richard Greenfield - Pali Research

Thank you very much.

Pat Armstrong

Thank you for joining us this morning, this conference call will be available on cable vision's website and on cablevision.com.

Operator

Thank you.

You may disconnect your line at this time and have a wonderful day

TRANSCRIPT SPONSOR

Better Than AdSense

What if there was a way to promote your company to a perfectly targeted group of potential customers, partners, acquirers and investors? What if you could tailor your pitch to them at the moment of maximum interest? And what if you could do this for a no-brainer price?

This is exactly what Seeking Alpha is offering with transcript sponsorships.

Six types of companies are sponsoring earnings transcripts on Seeking Alpha:

1. Company sponsors its own earnings call transcript (example).

2. Company sponsors partner's transcript (example).

3. Company sponsors competitor's transcript (example).

4. Issuer-sponsored research firm sponsors client's transcript (example).

5. Investment newsletter sponsors transcripts of successful stock picks (example).

6. IR firm sponsors transcript of micro-cap company (example).

7. Consulting company sponsors company's transcript in sector of interest (example).

Your company's name and promotion could have been on this transcript! Learn more, or email Zack Miller for details.

Copyright policy: All transcripts on this site are the copyright of Seeking Alpha. However, we view them as an important resource for bloggers and journalists, and are excited to contribute to the democratization of financial information on the Internet. (Until now investors have had to pay thousands of dollars in subscription fees for transcripts.) So our reproduction policy is as follows: You may quote up to 400 words of any transcript on the condition that you attribute the transcript to Seeking Alpha and either link to the original transcript or to www.SeekingAlpha.com. All other use is prohibited.

THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HERE IS A TEXTUAL REPRESENTATION OF THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S CONFERENCE CALL, CONFERENCE PRESENTATION OR OTHER AUDIO PRESENTATION, AND WHILE EFFORTS ARE MADE TO PROVIDE AN ACCURATE TRANSCRIPTION, THERE MAY BE MATERIAL ERRORS, OMISSIONS, OR INACCURACIES IN THE REPORTING OF THE SUBSTANCE OF THE AUDIO PRESENTATIONS. IN NO WAY DOES SEEKING ALPHA ASSUME ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY INVESTMENT OR OTHER DECISIONS MADE BASED UPON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS WEB SITE OR IN ANY TRANSCRIPT. USERS ARE ADVISED TO REVIEW THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S AUDIO PRESENTATION ITSELF AND THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S SEC FILINGS BEFORE MAKING ANY INVESTMENT OR OTHER DECISIONS.

If you have any additional questions about our online transcripts, please contact us at: transcripts@seekingalpha.com. Thank you!

Source: Cablevision Q4 2006 Earnings Call Transcript
This Transcript
All Transcripts