CenturyLink shines in Q4, but faces a challenging Q1

Following a profitable third-quarter, CenturyLink did not disappoint in Q4 09, but Q1 could be tough for the independent ILEC.

During the fourth quarter, CenturyLink reported that its profit increased to $230.2 million, or 77 cents a share, from $100.1 million, or $1.00 a share in 2009, prior to acquiring Embarq. What's more, CenturyLink's operating revenue nearly tripled to $1.84 billion, with its acquisition of Embarq chipping in $1.27 billion.

Big contributors to CenturyLink's Q4 growth were a rise in broadband subscriptions and improved phone line loss. CenturyLink added about 47,000 new broadband customers during the quarter, up eight percent over Q3 09's figure of 43,500 new subscribers. In addition, CenturyLink's access line losses improved 14 percent over Q3 09 and 24 percent versus Q4 08.

"We continue to see strong customer demand for broadband services, including high-speed Internet and Ethernet services, as we added nearly 47,000 high-speed Internet customers during the fourth quarter," said Glen Post, chief executive officer and president of CenturyLink in the company's earnings release. "Based on 2009 pro forma financials, CenturyLink generated $3.8 billion of operating cash flow for full year 2009."

Q1 2010, however, won't be as fruitful. Citing more voice access line loss, the company has forecasted earnings of 84-88 cents based on revenue of $1.77 billion to $1.80 billion. This is slightly below analyst expectations of 87 cents a share on revenue of $1.82 billion.

For more:
- see the release here
- Reuters has this article

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