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Cable TV operator Charter to 'wisely' pursue deals

By Soham Chatterjee and Jennifer Saba

(Reuters) - Charter Communications Inc, whose bid to take over Time Warner Cable Inc was thwarted earlier this month, plans to grow its subscriber base through more deals, its chief executive said on a call with analysts on Friday.

Charter CEO Tom Rutledge made few remarks about the company's failed pursuit of Time Warner Cable after having mounted a proxy battle last week.

"Notwithstanding everything that has happened, we are still interested in wisely acquiring subscribers through M&A when that opportunity arises," Rutledge said.

Charter was outmaneuvered in its $37.3 billion bid to acquire Time Warner Cable when Comcast Corp offered $45.2 billion.

Rutledge declined to comment when asked if he was worried about the size of Comcast, already the No. 1 cable provider in the United States, if regulators allow the Time Warner Cable deal to go through.

Executives with satellite operators Dish Network Corp and DirecTV voiced concern during their earnings calls on Thursday and Friday over the competitive landscape if the Comcast merger with Time Warner Cable is completed.

Charter is the No. 4 U.S. cable company and is backed by billionaire John Malone.

On Friday, it reported net income of $39 million, or 35 cents per share, for the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of $40 million, or 41 cents per share, a year earlier. Quarterly revenue rose 12.3 percent to $2.15 billion.

The company acquired Bresnan Broadband Holdings for $1.6 billion in February 2013, adding 670,000 homes and about 375,000 residential and business customers.

Charter shares were trading down 5.2 percent to $125.02in early afternoon.

The company said its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose about 3 percent to $764 million.

Analysts had expected a profit of 24 cents per share on revenue of $2.16 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Video revenue, which accounts for about half of total revenue, rose 12.8 percent. Internet revenue, which accounts for more than a quarter of total revenue, rose 22.4 percent. Revenue from sales to small and medium-size businesses and to carrier customers rose 28.8 percent.

The company added 93,000 residential Internet customers compared with 59,000 customers a year ago. Charter's residential customers grew by 63,000 in the quarter, up from 24,000 in the same period year ago.

Revenue per customer relationship rose 2 percent to $107.97.

Charter said it expects to boost spending by 19 percent to $2.2 billion in 2014 as it digitalizes set-top boxes and invests in its commercial business.

(Reporting By Soham Chatterjee in Bangalore and Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Ted Kerr, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Leslie Adler)

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