Cox Communications Announces Fourth Quarter Financial Results For 2000
Accelerated roll-out of advanced services drives solid results for the quarter and the year
Atlanta, GA
NYSE:COX

ATLANTA - Cox Communications, Inc. (NYSE: COX) today reported financial results for the three months ended December 31, 2000.

“2000 marked a tremendous year of growth,” said Jim Robbins, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We gained unprecedented ground with our advanced telecommunications services and achieved solid financial and operational results.

“We ended the year on a strong note with 14% pro forma operating cash flow (OCF) growth for the fourth quarter, resulting in 10% pro forma OCF growth for the year,” said Robbins. “Operationally, we continued to demonstrate steady and consistent growth in our core product offering, resulting in 1.8% pro forma basic customer growth.

“We made significant gains in new services as we added approximately 280,000 new-service revenue generating units (RGUs) in the fourth quarter versus 240,000 and 200,000 new-service RGUs in the third and second quarters, respectively. Early in 2000, we announced our plans to aggressively increase market share by accelerating the roll-out of advanced services. We ended the year with nearly 1.6 million new-service RGUs, for a total addition of more than 910,000 new-service RGUs for the year.”

Robbins continued. “Bundling was a key part of our strategy in 2000 as it strongly enhanced our competitive positioning by making our products and services ‘stickier’. Our results so far indicate significant improvement in the retention rates of our bundled customers. In addition, our customers are increasingly bundling their services, demonstrating that they enjoy the simplicity of purchasing multiple services from one company and paying one bill.”

Robbins also noted that Cox Business Services, which includes commercial voice and data services, doubled revenues for the third consecutive year and is positioning itself to provide additional services to small and medium businesses within Cox markets. In addition, Cox’s advertising sales subsidiary, CableRep, had another strong year, with a 21% pro forma increase in sales.

PRO FORMA OPERATING RESULTS

The pro forma operating results discussed below give effect to the following transactions as though they had occurred on January 1, 1999:

  • the August 1999 TCA Cable TV, Inc. merger;
  • the August 1999 exchange of selected cable systems with MediaOne;
  • the October 1999 acquisition of cable systems from Media General, Inc.;
  • the October 1999 reorganization of Cox's partnership with Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P., under which Cox obtained control of the cable system serving Fort Walton Beach, Florida, that Cox had managed since September 1992;
  • the January 2000 acquisition of cable systems from Multimedia Cablevision, Inc., a subsidiary of Gannett Co., Inc.; and
  • the March 2000 acquisition of cable subsidiaries from AT&T Corp. serving customers in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and also included the acquisition of Peak Cablevision, LLC and the remaining 20% ownership interest in a partnership in which Cox initially acquired an 80% interest through the TCA merger.

Pro forma three months ended December 31, 2000 compared with pro forma three months ended December 31, 1999

Total revenues for the three months ended December 31, 2000 were $945.9 million, a 13% increase over revenues of $838.1 million for the three months ended December 31, 1999. Total residential revenues for the fourth quarter of 2000 increased 10% to $813.1 million compared to the same period in 1999. Basic customers were 6,193,317, a 1.8% increase over December 31, 1999 after adjusting for the above transactions.

Residential video revenues include complete basic, premium service and pay-per-view revenues. Complete basic revenues for the fourth quarter of 2000 increased 8% over 1999 primarily due to basic and digital customer growth and rate increases implemented in the first quarter of 2000 resulting from increased programming costs, inflation and increased channel availability. Both premium revenues and pay-per-view revenues were comparable to the same period in 1999.

Residential data and residential telephony revenues for the fourth quarter of 2000 increased to $44.3 million and $34.1 million, respectively, from $19.8 million and $17.7 million, respectively, in 1999 due to customer growth. Commercial revenues for the fourth quarter of 2000 increased to $29.2 million from $17.6 million in 1999 due to growth in both high-speed data and telephony customers.

Advertising revenues increased 24% to $103.6 million due to non-recurring political campaign advertising during the fourth quarter of 2000 and continued growth in local and national advertising sales.

Programming costs were $225.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2000, an increase of 13% over the same period in 1999 due to basic and digital customer growth, channel additions and programming rate increases implemented in January and October of 2000. Selling, general and administrative expenses for the fourth quarter of 2000 increased 12% to $333.7 million due primarily to:

  • increased employee headcount;
  • marketing costs related to campaigns aimed at enhancing customer awareness of new services and bundling alternatives;
  • other costs associated with the continued rollout of residential and commercial digital video, high-speed data and telephony services; and
  • integration expenses associated with the cable systems acquired during 1999 and 2000;
  • partially offset by a revised cost component factor used to capitalize indirect costs relating to network construction activity.

Pro forma operating cash flow increased 14% to $386.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2000. The pro forma operating cash flow margin (pro forma operating cash flow as a percentage of revenues) for the current quarter was 40.9%, a slight increase from 40.6% for the fourth quarter of 1999.

Pro forma twelve months ended December 31, 2000 compared with pro forma twelve months ended December 31, 1999

Total revenues for the twelve months ended December 31, 2000 were $3,573.3 million, a 12% increase over revenues of $3,199.7 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 1999. Total residential revenues for the twelve months ended December 31, 2000 increased 9% to $3,122.8 million compared to the same period in 1999. Basic customers were 6,193,317, a 1.8% increase over December 31, 1999 after adjusting for the above transactions.

Residential video revenues include complete basic, premium service and pay-per-view revenues. Complete basic revenues for the twelve months ended December 31, 2000 increased 8% over 1999 primarily due to basic and digital customer growth and rate increases implemented primarily in the first quarter of 2000 resulting from increased programming costs and inflation, as well as increased channel availability. The increase in complete basic revenues was offset by a decrease in pay-per-view revenues resulting from fewer national boxing events.

Residential data and telephony revenues for the twelve months ended December 31, 2000 increased to $138.4 million and $106.1 million, respectively, from $60.1 million and $45.0 million, respectively, due to customer growth. Commercial revenues for the twelve months ended December 31, 2000 increased to $97.8 million from $52.0 million due to growth in both high-speed data and telephony customers.

Advertising revenues increased 21% to $352.7 million due to continued growth in local and national advertising sales.

Programming costs were $874.4 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2000, an increase of 9% over the same period in 1999 due to basic and digital customer growth, channel additions and January and October 2000 programming rate increases offset by fewer national pay-per-view events during 2000. Selling, general and administrative expenses for the twelve months ended December 31, 2000 increased 15% to $1,295.8 million due primarily to:

  • increased employee headcount;
  • marketing costs related to campaigns aimed at enhancing customer awareness of new services and bundling alternatives;
  • other costs associated with the continued rollout of residential and commercial digital video, high-speed data and telephony services; and
  • integration expenses associated with the cable systems acquired during 1999 and 2000.

Pro forma operating cash flow increased 10% to $1,403.1 million for 2000. The pro forma operating cash flow margin for the twelve months ended December 31, 2000 was 39.3%, a decrease from 39.8% for the comparable period in 1999.

HISTORICAL OPERATING RESULTS

Three months ended December 31, 2000 compared with three months ended December 31, 1999

Total revenues for the three months ended December 31, 2000 were $945.9 million, a 31% increase over revenues of $721.8 million for the three months ended December 31, 1999. Operating cash flow increased 33% to $386.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2000. Depreciation and amortization increased to $355.5 million from $239.2 million in fourth quarter 1999 due to the acquisitions of cable systems that were consummated during 1999 and 2000. Interest expense increased to $150.0 million primarily due to an increase in the total debt outstanding during the fourth quarter 2000 as compared to the same period in 1999.

Net gain on investments of $92.0 million is primarily due to a pre-tax gain of approximately $114.8 million recognized on the October and November 2000 sales of approximately 4.2 million shares of Cox’s Sprint PCS common stock – Series 2 partially offset by a $22.8 million decline in the fair value of certain investments considered to be other than temporary.

Minority interest of $15.0 million primarily represents distributions on Cox’s obligated capital and preferred securities of subsidiary trusts, referred to as FELINE PRIDES and RHINOS. Net loss for the current quarter was $71.6 million as compared to net income $113.1 million for the fourth quarter of 1999.

Twelve months ended December 31, 2000 compared with twelve months ended December 31, 1999

Total revenues for the twelve months ended December 31, 2000 were $3,506.9 million, a 51% increase over revenues of $2,318.1 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 1999. Operating cash flow increased 53% to $1,377.3 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2000. Depreciation and amortization increased to $1,236.5 million from $715.7 million for the comparable period in 1999. Interest expense increased to $550.8 million primarily due to an increase in the total debt outstanding during the twelve months ended December 31, 2000 as compared to the same period in 1999. Equity in net losses of affiliated companies decreased to $7.3 million from $90.5 million for the comparable period in 1999 primarily due to prior year losses associated with Cox Communications PCS.

Net gain on investments of $3,282.0 million primarily relates to:

  • $1,193.0 million pre-tax gain on the sales of Sprint PCS common stock totaling 28.1 million shares;
  • $318.9 million pre-tax gain on the sale of Cox’s entire equity interest in Flextech plc in March 2000;
  • $775.9 million pre-tax gain in connection with the March 2000 exchange with AT&T; and
  • $990.5 million pre-tax gain in connection with the transaction among Excite@Home and its principal cable partners, including Cox, as further described below;
  • partially offset by a $22.8 million decline in the fair value of certain investments considered to be other than temporary.

In August 2000, Cox consummated an agreement with Excite@Home pursuant to which the ownership, voting control and management of Excite@Home were restructured. As a result of that restructuring, Cox’s veto rights and representation on the Excite@Home board were terminated. Cox agreed to extend its distribution of certain Excite@Home services through June 2006. Pursuant to the restructuring, Cox will receive warrants to purchase two shares of Excite@Home Series A common stock for each home its cable systems pass. In addition, Cox has the right, under certain circumstances, to sell its shares in Excite@Home to AT&T, with a maximum amount payable to Cox of $1.4 billion. In connection with the consummation of this agreement, Cox recognized a pre-tax gain of approximately $990.5 million.

In January 2001, Cox notified AT&T of its intention to exercise its right under the agreement to transfer the corporation that owns its shares of Excite@Home to AT&T for shares of AT&T stock. Cox currently anticipates receiving approximately 64.4 million shares of AT&T stock at the closing of this transaction, which Cox expects will occur during the first quarter of 2001.

Minority interest of $69.8 million primarily represents distributions on Cox’s obligated capital and preferred securities of subsidiary trusts, referred to as FELINE PRIDES and RHINOS. Net income for the twelve months ended December 31, 2000 was $1,925.3 million as compared to $881.9 million for the comparable period in 1999.

INVESTING AND FINANCING ACTIVITIES

Significant investing and financing transactions for the twelve months ended December 31, 2000 resulted in the following:

  • proceeds of $2.7 billion from the sale and exchange of investments in affiliated companies;
  • proceeds of $2.1 billion from the issuances of various indexed subordinated debentures and senior debt securities;
  • payment of $2.7 billion for the January 2000 purchase of cable systems from Multimedia;
  • repayment of $950.0 million for notes; and
  • payment of $211.9 million for the repurchase of 5.5 million shares of Cox’s Class A common stock in connection with Cox’s stock repurchase program.

In January 2001, Cox entered into variable forward contracts to sell up to 19.5 million shares of Sprint PCS common stock for aggregate proceeds of $389.4 million. These contracts mature at various dates between 2004 and 2006.

Also in January 2001, Cox and Cox Trust I, a wholly-owned Cox financing trust, filed a Form S-3 Registration Statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission under which Cox may issue various debt and equity instruments for a maximum aggregate amount up to $2.0 billion. This registration statement was declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 2, 2001.

All historical weighted average share, per share and historical balance sheet amounts have been restated to reflect Cox's two-for-one stock split which became effective May 21, 1999. In addition, all Sprint PCS share information reflects a two-for-one stock dividend paid by Sprint in February 2000.

Cox Communications serves approximately 6.2 million customers nationwide, making it the nation’s fifth largest cable television company. A full-service provider of telecommunications products, Cox offers an array of services, including Cox Cable; local and long distance telephone services under the Cox Digital Telephone brand; high-speed Internet access under the brands Cox@Home, Road Runner and Cox Express; advanced digital video programming services under the Cox Digital Cable brand; and commercial voice and data services via Cox Business Services. Cox is an investor in telecommunications companies including Sprint PCS and Excite@Home, as well as programming networks including Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Outdoor Life and Speedvision. More information about Cox Communications can be accessed on the Internet at www.cox.com.

Statements in this release, including statements relating to growth opportunities and introduction of new products and services, are “forward-looking” statements, which are statements that relate to Cox’s future plans, earnings, objectives, expectations, performance, and similar projections, as well as any facts or assumptions underlying these statements or projections. Actual results may differ materially from the results expressed or implied in these forward-looking statements, due to various risks, uncertainties or other factors. These factors include competition within the broadband communications industry, our ability to achieve anticipated subscriber and revenue growth, our success in implementing new services and other operating initiatives, our ability to generate sufficient cash flow to meet our debt service obligations and finance operations, and other risk factors described from time to time in Cox’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Cox’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 1999. Cox assumes no responsibility to update any forward looking statements as a result of the new information, future events or otherwise.

As a reminder, the Cox Communications earnings call will be held Tuesday, February 6 at 9:30 a.m. EST. A live webcast of the conference call will be available on the Cox Communications website at www.cox.com/investor. A recording of the conference call will remain on the company's website for two weeks following the conclusion of the call.

(See attached financial information)

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				      Kimberley Brown
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