Windstream line loss slows, but profit, revenue drop

Independent telco Windstream Communications isn't exactly keeping its landlines, but its third quarter earnings showed that its rate of line loss was just 5 percent compared to a year ago, better than had been expected, and about two percentage points better than many other wireline telcos.

Windstream also reported profit of $105.9 million, about $12 million lower than the same period last year, and revenue of $794.1 million, down almost $25 million from last year.

Many eyes have been on Windstream for months since the company made no attempt to hide its desire to partake in the consolidation of the rural telco market. Windstream later put that ambition on hold as the credit crisis hit and financial conditions worsened, but it recently watched fellow independent CenturyTel agree to acquire Embarq, a company some industry watchers had assumed Windstream could make a play for at some point. Windstream CEO Jeff Gardner, speaking on the company's earning call, expressed surprise at the timing of the CenturyTel-Embarq deal, and said Windstream likely would not do any deals soon that would require the company to take on a large debt load.

Being cautious will keep Windstream's balance sheet in order, but will it miss more buying opportunities?

For more:
- Forbes has the Associated Press story on earnings
- Telephony covers Windstream's M&A outlook

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We thought Windstream would feel line loss big-time. We were wrong.
Back in August, it looked like Windstream was ready to buy.

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