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|CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, INC. /MO/ filed this Form 8-K on 02/04/2016|
Fourth quarter advertising sales revenues of $87 million decreased 18.9% compared to the year-ago quarter primarily driven by a decrease in political advertising revenue of $16 million.
Operating Costs and Expenses
Fourth quarter total operating costs and expenses increased by $89 million, or 5.9%, compared to the year-ago period, reflecting increases in programming costs, other expenses and transition costs related to Charter's pending transactions with Time Warner Cable Inc. ("Time Warner Cable") and Bright House Networks, LLC ("Bright House"). Transition costs accounted for $22 million of total fourth quarter operating costs. Excluding transition costs, fourth quarter total operating expenses increased by $78 million, or 5.3% year-over-year.
Fourth quarter programming expense increased by $49 million, or 7.9%, as compared to the fourth quarter of 2014, reflecting contractual programming increases and a higher number of expanded basic package customers and the introduction of new networks to Charter's video offering.
Costs to service customers remained virtually unchanged year-over-year despite year-over-year residential and SMB customer relationship growth of 5.6%, given improved service metrics. Other expenses grew by $28 million, or 14.8%, as compared to the fourth quarter of 2014, reflecting higher corporate and administrative labor costs, including the insourcing of IT and software development resources, property taxes and insurance costs and enterprise sales and labor costs.
Fourth quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $908 million grew by 7.5% year-over-year, reflecting revenue growth and operating costs and expenses growth of 6.4% and 5.9%, respectively. Excluding transition-related expenses, fourth quarter Adjusted EBITDA grew by 8.4% year-over-year.
Net loss totaled $122 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $48 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. The year-over-year increase in net loss was driven by $231 million of interest expense related to the financing of Charter's pending transactions with Time Warner Cable and Bright House, offset by higher income from operations and lower income tax expense. Basic and diluted loss per common share was $1.09 in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to $0.44 during the same period last year. The increase in loss per common share was primarily the result of the factors described above, partially offset by a 1.7% increase in weighted average shares outstanding versus the prior-year period.
Property, plant and equipment expenditures totaled $548 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $543 million during the fourth quarter of 2014. The year-over-year increase in capital expenditures resulted from higher product development investments and transition capital expenditures related to Charter's planned and pending acquisitions, partially offset by a decline in customer premise equipment ("CPE") spending. CPE spending declined versus the prior-year period as Charter completed its all-digital initiative in the fourth quarter of 2014. Transition-related capital expenditures accounted for $49 million of capital expenditures in the fourth quarter of 2015. Excluding transition-related expenditures, fourth quarter property, plant and equipment expenditures totaled $499 million.
During the fourth quarter of 2015, net cash flows from operating activities totaled $611 million, compared to $630 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. The year-over-year decline in net cash flow from operating activities was primarily due to higher cash interest paid in the fourth quarter of 2015 versus the fourth quarter of 2014, driven by the financing of Charter's pending transactions with Time Warner Cable