CenturyTel profit lower, Embarq deal to close soon

Monroe, La.-based CenturyTel, the independent rural telco that is in the process of buying fellow indie Embarq, posted first-quarter earnings of $67.2 million, down almost $22 million from the same quarter last year. Operating revenue decreased by about 2 percent to land at just more than $635 million.

The company posted double-digit-percent growth in broadband Internet customers to 665,000, but like all telcos, CenturyTel continued to experience landline loss. Access lines dipped almost 7 percent to just less than 2 million, though that loss rate, consistent with the loss rate of other small telcos, is not as fast-paced as the loss that large telcos like AT&T and Verizon Communications are experiencing.

CenturyTel said its $5.8 billion deal with Embarq remains on track to close during the second quarter, and that the deal already has received approval from 28 of the 33 state regulatory agencies around the U.S. that need to look at it. While line losses mount, the company is hoping to end up with almost 8 million access lines when the Embarq deal is completed.

For more:
- Here's the CenturyTel earnings press release

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CenturyTel announced the Embarq acquisition last October