CenturyLink, Inc. (CTL)

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CenturyTel, Inc. (CTL)

Q4 2009 Earnings Call Transcript

February 25, 2010 11:30 am ET

Executives

Tony Davis – VP, IR

Glen Post – President and CEO

Stewart Ewing – CFO

Karen Puckett – COO

Analysts

Dave Coleman [ph]

Simon Flannery – Morgan Stanley

Frank Louthan – Raymond James

Chris King – Stifel Nicolaus

Chris Larsen – Piper Jaffray

Tim Horan – Oppenheimer

David Barden – Banc of America

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to CenturyLink fourth quarter 2009 earnings conference 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). As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded.

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

Tony Davis

Thank you. Good morning, everyone and welcome to our call today to discuss CenturyLink’s fourth quarter 2009 earnings results released earlier this morning.

Unless otherwise noted in the press release or in our remarks this morning, the fourth quarter 2009 results discussed in the press release and during our call today include the effect of the Embarq acquisition completed July 1, 2009.

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 Web site at www.centurylink.com.

Your host for today’s call is Glen Post, Chief Executive Officer and President of CenturyLink. Joining Glen on our 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 first quarter and full year 2010, selected information regarding 2010 and other outlooks in our business. Please 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 March 3rd and accessible for webcast replay through March 17th. For anyone listening to a taped or webcast replay of this call or for anyone reviewing a written transcript of today’s call, please note that all information presented is current only as of that date or to-date and should be considered valid only as of today, regardless of the date listen to or reviewed.

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

Glen Post

Thank you, Tony, and thank you for joining us today as we discuss CenturyLink’s fourth quarter 2009 operating results and our guidance for first quarter and full year of 2010. Even with the continued challenging economic environment, which is solid financial and operating results for the quarter. Diluted earnings per share excluding nonrecurring items of $0.95 for the quarter and $0.07 ahead of the $0.88 per share upper end of our previous guidance in the first call of consensus.

Operating revenues for the quarter were $1.839 billion or slightly above the midpoint of our previous revenue guidance of $1.81 to $1.85 billion.

We experienced strong demand for broadband service during the quarter and we had nearly 47,000 high-speed internet customers, this represents an 8% improvement over third quarter 2009, customer additions of approximately 43,500 and a significant improvement over performance of second quarter of 2009, additions were about 29,000.

This strong HSI growth since the July 1st closing of the Embarq acquisition has been driven primarily by our aggressive broadband strategy and our launch of Pure Broadband across the Embarq markets.

We ended the quarter with more than 2,236 million high speed internet customers or over 37.4% penetration of our broadband enabled access lines and approximately 33.3% of total addressable access lines.

We also experienced significant access lines loss improvement as our fourth quarter line loss of approximately 146,000 access lines, represents a 14% improvement over the 170,000 loss in the third quarter and a significant 24% improvement over the fourth quarter 2008 pro forma line loss of 193,000.

Our annualized access line loss for the fourth quarter was 8.1%, which compares to 9.2% in the third quarter of 2009 and 9.8% in pro forma fourth quarter 2008. We experienced a nice improvement and announced or disconnect orders in both the consumer and business segments which was the primary driver of our access line improvement.

Also, demand for our satellite video bundles remain strong, as we added approximately 32,500 DISH customers during the fourth quarter, ended the quarter with more than 535,000 DISH video subscribers.

At year-end 2009, total video subscribers represented 11.7% penetration on primary residential lines. We continue to develop our IPTV capabilities in Columbia and Jefferson City, Missouri and in LA Crosse, Wisconsin. We’re pleased with the results. And these markets thus far are planning to launch of IPTV service in additional markets in 2010 and 2011.

Now turning our attention to the Embarq transaction, integration and processes on schedule and going very well with the financial and HR systems, conversions and initial billing conversion in Ohio behind us. Our next billing conversion is scheduled for North Carolina and will result in approximately 25% of the total legacy Embarq customers to be converted to our integrated customer care billing and provisioning systems.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com