Malone's Liberty Global swings back to profitability, narrows video customer losses in Q2

After an aggressive period of expansion marked by a series of quarterly losses, John Malone’s Liberty Global PLC reported a second-quarter profit of $101.4 million on an 11 percent revenue increase of $5.07 billion.

The company, formed by the 2005 merger of European cable giant UnitedGlobalCom and Malone’s Liberty Media International, added 2.2 million subscribers in the second quarter. Excluding acquisitions, the company added 277,000 customers vs. 138,300 in the second quarter of 2015.

In the video area, London-based Liberty Global lost 72,000 pay-TV customers across its European holdings, an improvement over the 111,000 lost in Q2 2015.

In fact, nine out of the 12 European countries in which the telecom giant operates reported improved video subscriber metrics. Notably, Liberty said it added 304,000 new customers to its “next generation” video platforms, which include its TiVo-supported service, as well as Horizon TV and Yelo TV.

In the U.K, Virgin Media added 66,000 TiVo users in the second quarter, with 82 percent of Virgin pay-TV users now on the platform.

For Liberty Global, the improved metrics were juxtaposed against the company’s large debt load — acquisitions and other deals, including the $700 million purchase of the Caribbean’s Cable & Wireless in May, have pushed Liberty’s overall debt to $50 billion.

That, coupled with Brexit, is creating some unease.

"In late June, British voters decided to leave the EU. Fortunately, the debt on our balance sheet remains hedged against currency and interest rate exposures, while our average tenor currently stands at seven years,” said Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries.

For more:
- read this Liberty Global earnings release
- read this Wall Street Journal story

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