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CenturyLink Profit Down On Special Charges, Lower Margins


CenturyLink Inc. (CTL) Wednesday reported a decline in profit for the second quarter despite higher revenues, hurt mainly by higher one-time expenses and lower operating margins.

Revenues for the quarter grew 4.7 percent driven mainly by contribution from Savvis acquisition, increases in strategic revenues, growth in high-speed Internet and Prism TV subscribers and higher data integration revenues.

CenturyLink a regional broadband and landline services provider has expanded its revenues mainly through acquisitions. In the last four years, the company spent about $38 billion to acquire Savvis Inc., Qwest Communications International Inc., and Embarq Corp.

Nevertheless, the company finds it tough to retain customers, as users set aside phone lines and switching over to mobile phones.

Chief Executive Glen Post said, "We experienced continued broadband and Prism TV subscriber growth in the second quarter, in spite of typical lower seasonal demand, while continuing to improve customer retention as our annual access line loss rate of decline slowed to 6.1% this quarter from 7.4% in the pro forma year-ago period."

CenturyLink added more than 18,000 high-speed Internet customers, and improved the number of Prism TV subscribers by 11 percent from first quarter of 2012.

Operating revenues for second quarter grew to $4.61 billion from $4.41 billion in second quarter last year. Eighteen analysts on a consensus estimated revenues of $4.57 billion for the quarter.

Monroe, Louisiana-based CenturyLink's second-quarter profit dropped to $74 million or $0.12 per share from $115 million or $0.19 per share last year.

Second-quarter bottom line reflect negative impacts of $123 million related to losses on the early retirement of debt, $7 million on severance, integration and retention costs associated with the Qwest and Savvis acquisitions, and $14 million on severance associated with recent expense reduction initiatives.

Excluding special items, earnings for the quarter slipped to $0.65 per share from $0.69 per share last year. On average, analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $0.62 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Operating expenses, excluding special items, increased to $3.92 billion from $3.67 billion, primarily due to costs tied with the Savvis acquisition and higher data integration costs.

Looking forward to the third-quarter, the company expects adjusted earnings of $0.54 to $0.59 per share, and operating revenues of $4.54 billion to $4.59 billion. Analysts currently expect earnings of $0.60 per share on revenues of $4.56 billion for the quarter.

For fiscal year 2012, CenturyLink now expects adjusted earnings of $2.45 to $2.55 per share, compared to prior outlook of $2.35 to $2.55 per share.

The company now anticipates revenues for fiscal 2012 of $18.3 billion to $18.4 billion, compared to prior range of $18.2 billion to $18.4 billion.

Analysts currently expect earnings of $2.44 per share on revenues of $18.32 billion for fiscal year 2012.

CTL closed Wednesday's trading at $42.02, up $0.17 or 0.41%, on a volume of 0.7 million shares on the NYSE. The stock lost $0.17 or 0.39% in after-hours trade.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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