Debt-beset cable giant NTL on Tuesday issued its third trading statement within ten days in a bid to calm investors’ nerves. The US-owned TV, telecoms and internet services operator, Britain's largest, reiterated its confidence in meeting fourth quarter earnings targets.

But the fall in NTL shares continued as investors and analysts expressed their disappointment that NTL has attached no numbers as yet to its programme of capital expenditure cuts in 2002.

However, the first of the sacrifices to appease the gods of Wall Street has been presented to the knife. The abandoned launch of a new digital sports channel on Premium TV, NTL’s sports programming unit, is expected to cull up to fifty jobs, presaging a further 4,000 layoffs during 2002.

The group is still reeling from the unprecedented prediction by corporate punter Goldman Sachs that its piggybank will be empty by the second quarter of 2002 [WAMN: 14-Dec-01]. Other, more generous if equally wild, guesses say this won’t happen until 2003.

But as ever in the mystic world of pig-in-a-pokery, all remains speculation until NTL unveils its detailed cost curtailment plan to analysts and investors at a conference in early January. Meantime, New York-listed NTL recovered from record lows Tuesday to trade up 15 cents a share at 77 cents.

News source: Financial Times