|By Business Wire||
|August 11, 2014 11:29 AM EDT||
Fitch Ratings has affirmed the 'BB-' Issuer Default Rating (IDR) assigned to Cablevision Systems Corporation (CVC) and its wholly owned subsidiary CSC Holdings, LLC (CSCH). In addition, Fitch has affirmed specific issue ratings assigned to CSCH and upgraded CVC's senior unsecured notes to 'B+' as outlined below.
The Rating Outlook for CVC and CSCH's ratings has been revised to Stable from Negative.
As of June 30, 2014, CVC had approximately $9.9 billion of debt outstanding on a consolidated basis.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
--The company's operating strategies and investments, coupled with pricing actions, have translated into an improving operating profile as evidenced by expanding cable segment EBITDA margins and ARPU growth;
--The Stable Outlook incorporates Fitch's expectation that CVC's credit profile will continue to strengthen in step with its improving operating profile and its ability to generate meaningful levels of free cash flow (FCF);
--Fitch expects ongoing initiatives and investments to improve operational efficiency and customer experience, together with pricing actions, will modestly improve core cable segment EBITDA margins during the rating horizon, which taken together with opportunistic debt reduction supports the current ratings;
--Fitch expects CVC will maintain a conservative approach to capital allocation as the company's operating profile continues to strengthen.
The Stable Outlook incorporates Fitch's belief that CVC's credit profile, while weakly positioned within the current rating, will continue to strengthen in step with anticipated improvement of its operating profile. This is the result of its attempts to offset rising programming and employee compensation costs with price increases and operational efficiency initiatives aimed at accelerating revenue growth and improving EBITDA margins. Expected EBITDA margin improvement coupled with normalizing capital expenditures will enhance the company's ability to deliver stronger free cash flow (FCF) metrics during 2014 and resulted in leverage that is within expectations for the current rating category.
Programming cost inflation represents a significant and likely permanent shift in CVC's cost structure. CVC expects high single-digit programming cost inflation will remain into 2014. Positively, in addition to ongoing pricing initiatives put in place during the first half of 2013, CVC's continuing operating cost initiatives partially offset the cost inflation by driving costs out of other parts of its cost structure through reducing the transaction volume of its business and improving operational efficiencies. These actions have resulted in CVC's LTM EBITDA margin expanding 307 basis points to 28.9% during second-quarter 2014 (2Q'14) relative to the same period last year, excluding discontinued operations. The company anticipates tempered EBITDA growth during the second half of 2014 but expects growth in the mid-to-high single digits for the full year in 2014. However, Fitch does not believe that the operating margin of CVC's core cable segment will return to historical levels and CVC's EBITDA margins continue to lag its peer group.
CVC anticipates capex will remain elevated at a level similar to 2013. Fitch expects capex priorities will continue to include the expansion of CVC's Wi-Fi network overlay both in and out of the home during 2014. Additionally, the company has upgraded its cable head-ends to facilitate the launch of its Multi-Room DVR service - CVC's remote storage or cloud-based DVR service. Nonetheless Fitch anticipates the improvements in CVC's operating profile will allow the company to offset higher, but stabilizing, capital spending and enable the company to generate growing levels of FCF during the rating horizon. Fitch believes CVC's FCF margin will approximate 3% of revenues as of year-end 2015 and grow to 5% by year-end 2016.
CVC's financial strategy is centered on opportunistically reducing debt and improving its credit profile. The company utilized cash from asset sales and litigation settlements to reduce outstanding debt and ended 2Q'14 with consolidated leverage of 5.4x, which is an improvement from 6.0x as of June 30, 2013 (excluding discontinued operations). Fitch expects initiatives to improve operational efficiency and ongoing pricing actions will expand EBITDA margins modestly during 2014 and 2015. The operating initiatives and debt reduction should strengthen credit protection metrics. Fitch believes CVC's leverage metric will range between 5.3x and 5.5x at year-end 2014 and approach 5.2x as of year-end 2015.
Fitch considers CVC's liquidity position and overall financial flexibility to be adequate given the current rating. The company's liquidity position is supported by cash on hand totaling $907 million as of June 30, 2014 and available borrowing capacity from CSCH's $1.5 billion revolver expiring April 2018. Fitch expects CVC's financial flexibility will strengthen in line with its improving operating profile and FCF generation.
CVC extended its maturity profile and reduced the volume of maturities between 2014 and 2017 after refinancing its credit facility in April 2013. The company also reduced its annual term loan amortization payments after issuing $750 million of senior notes due 2024 to prepay a portion of its term loan B in May 2014. Scheduled maturities (excluding collateralized monetization transactions) consist of $32 million during the remainder of 2014, $64 million during 2015 and $568 million in 2016.
CVC's conservative posture related to its share repurchase program, while maintaining a consistent dividend is positive for the company's credit profile. The company did not repurchase any shares during 2013 or in the first half of 2014 (versus $188.6 million in 2012). As of June 30, 2014, CVC had $455.3 million of availability remaining under its stock repurchase program.
The upgrade of CVC's senior unsecured debt is supported by stronger recovery prospects through an improving credit profile and a capital structure less reliant on secured debt.
Future developments that may, individually or collectively, lead to a positive rating action include:
--Further strengthening of the company's credit profile and a sustained reduction of leverage to below 4.5x;
--Clear indications that pricing and cost reduction initiatives are producing desired revenue growth acceleration and EBITDA margin expansion;
--Positive FCF generation exceeding 5% of consolidated revenues;
--FCF as a percentage of adjusted debt with equity credit exceeding 4%;
--Cablevision demonstrating that its operating profile will not materially decline in the face of competition.
Negative ratings actions would likely coincide with:
--The company's inability to realize the expected benefits of its operating strategies and strengthen its operating profile. Specifically, Fitch will be looking for mid-single-digit ARPU growth, cable segment operating margins returning to the mid 30% range and positive FCF generation;
--Fitch's belief that CVC's consolidated leverage will remain above 5.5x in the absence of a clear path to de-lever the company will likely spur a negative rating action;
--Although not anticipated in the near term, the re-initiation of aggressive share repurchases while leverage remains elevated.
Fitch has affirmed the following ratings with a Stable Outlook:
Cablevision Systems Corporation
--IDR at 'BB-'.
CSC Holdings, LLC
--IDR at 'BB-';
--Senior secured credit facility at 'BB+';
--Senior unsecured debt at 'BB'.
Fitch has upgraded the following ratings:
Cablevision Systems Corporation
--Senior unsecured debt to 'B+' from 'B-'.
Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.
Applicable Criteria and Related Research:
--'Corporate Rating Methodology' (May 28, 2014);
--'Rating Telecom Companies' (Aug. 9, 2012).
Applicable Criteria and Related Research:
Corporate Rating Methodology - Including Short-Term Ratings and Parent and Subsidiary Linkage
Rating Telecom Companies
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will w...
Dec. 27, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,954
"ElasticBox is an enterprise company that makes it very easy for developers and IT ops to collaborate to develop, build and deploy applications on any cloud - private, public or hybrid," stated Monish Sharma, VP of Customer Success at ElasticBox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 27, 2014 01:30 PM EST Reads: 1,835
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
Dec. 27, 2014 12:45 PM EST Reads: 1,691
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Ar...
Dec. 27, 2014 12:30 PM EST Reads: 2,443
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
Dec. 27, 2014 12:30 PM EST Reads: 1,947
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
Dec. 27, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 2,691
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
Dec. 27, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,784
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from ha...
Dec. 27, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 2,357
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
Dec. 27, 2014 11:30 AM EST Reads: 2,510
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective ...
Dec. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,992
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
Dec. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,148
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,935
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Dec. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 7,175
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
Dec. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,119
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
Dec. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 2,115