CenturyLink, Inc. (CTL)

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CenturyTel, Inc. (CTL)

Q3 2009 Earnings Call

November 05, 2009 11:30 am ET

Executives

Tony Davis - VP of IR

Glen Post - CEO and President

Stewart Ewing - CFO

Karen Puckett - COO

Analyst

Frank Louthan

Simon Flannery

David Martin

Michael McCormack

Chris Larsen

Chris King

Sam Haran

Batya Levi

Michael Rollins

Donna Jaegers

Dave Comant

Presentation

Operator

Good day ladies and gentlemen and welcome to CenturyLink’s third quarter 2009 Earnings Call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will be given at that time. (Operator Instructions) This conference is being recorded.

I would now turn the conference over to Mr. Tony Davis, Vice President of Investor Relations. You may begin.

Tony Davis

Good morning, everyone and welcome to our call today to discuss CenturyLink’s third quarter 2009 earnings results released earlier this morning. As we mentioned during our second quarter earnings call, effective with the July 1, 2009 closing of the EMBARQ transactions, CenturyTel began operating under the trade name CenturyLink. Unless otherwise noted in the press release or in our remarks this morning, the third quarter 2009 results discussed in the press release and during our call today include the effect of the EMBARQ acquisition.

Also during today's call we will refer to certain non-GAAP financial measures. We have reconciled these measures to GAAP figures in our earnings release which is available on our website at www.centurylink.com.

Your host for today's call is Glen Post, Chief Executive Officer and President of CenturyLink. Joining Glen on the call today is Stewart Ewing, CenturyLink’s Chief Financial Officer. Also available during the call today is Karen Puckett, CenturyLink's Chief Operating Officer.

We will be making certain forward-looking statements today particularly as they pertain to guidance for fourth quarter and full year 2009, selected information regarding 2010, and other out looks in our business.

We ask that you review our safe harbor language found in our press release, and in our SEC filings, which describe factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those projected by us in our forward-looking statements.

Our call today will be accessible for telephone replay through November 11, 2009 and accessible for webcast replay through November 25, 2009. For anyone listening to a taped or webcast replay of this call or for anyone viewing a written transcript of today's call, please note that all information presented is current only as of November 5, 2009, and should be considered valid only as of this date regardless of the date listened to or reviewed.

At this time I'll turn the call over to your host today, Glen Post. Glen?

Glen Post

Thank you all for joining us today as we discuss CenturyLink's third quarter 2009 operating results and our guidance for fourth quarter and full year 2009. Diluted earnings per share excluding non-recurring items was $0.90 for the quarter, $0.08 ahead of the $0.82 upper end of our previous guidance and $0.09 higher than first call, (inaudible) of $0.81 per share. About $0.07 of this over achievement was due to results of the preliminary assignment of fair-value as related to the EMBARQ acquisition.

Operating revenues for the quarter were $1.874 billion or slightly above the midpoint of our previous revenue guidance to $1.85 billion to $1.89 billion. We experienced strong demand for broadband services during the quarter as we added more than 43,500 high speed Internet customers. This was a significant improvement over pro forma second quarter ads of approximately 29,000, driven primarily by an aggressive broadband strategy and our launch of pure broadband across the EMBARQ markets.

We ended the quarter with more than 2.189 billion high speed internet customers, over 39%, penetration of our residential customer base and approximately 31.9% penetration of a total addressable access lines.

We experienced access lines [losses] of 169,800 during the quarter which represents a sizable improvement over the second quarter 2009, pro forma line loss of 187,500 and a 16% improvement over the third quarter '08 pro forma line loss of 202,600.

Our annualized residential access line losses for the quarter was 10.3% which is a nice improvement from 11.2% and pro forma second quarter 2009 and 12.2% and pro forma third quarter 2008. Now the economy does continue to impact our business access line performance as we continue to experience fewer business starts as well as downsizing by existing business customers. However we did see some sequential improvement in our level of business access line losses compared to the second quarter of 2009.

Additionally we experienced strong demand for our satellite video product as we added nearly 39,500 Dish customers during the third quarter. We ended the quarter with more than 500,000 Dish satellite video subscribers.

Total video subscribers as a percentage of primary residential lines is approximately 11%. We also continue to develop our IPTV capabilities in Columbia, Missouri and LaCrosse, Wisconsin. We launched IPTV service in Jefferson City, Missouri which is being served from our video head end in Colombia. We continue to see strong positive customer retention impact with our IPTV offering and we believe there's also a strong customer relationship between our IPTV and high speed internet offerings. We [can] plan to continue leverage this relationship in future product and bundle offerings.

Before turning the call to Stewart, I want to make a comments regarding our progress with the EMBARQ integration. We closed the EMBARQ acquisition effective July 1st. The implementation of our new operating model is going very well and we believe it is already making a difference in the legacy EMBARQ markets to an increased local market focus with sales and service decisions and accountability close to the customer.

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