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CenturyLink (CTL) Q1 Earnings Beat Estimates; Stock Down

CenturyLink Inc. CTL reported mixed results in the first quarter of 2016, wherein the bottom line outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate while the top line lagged the same.

Increased revenues from the acceptance and recognition of CAF phase II funds along with strength in Business high-bandwidth data services and Consumer strategic revenues were more than offset by declines in voice and long distance, low-bandwidth data services and data integration revenues. Following the results, the company’s shares dropped 4.7% yesterday in after-hours trading on the NYSE.


CenturyLink posted first-quarter 2016 adjusted earnings per share of 71 cents, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 68 cents. GAAP net income stood at $236 million or 44 cents per share compared with net income of $192 million or 34 cents in the prior-year quarter.

Quarterly total revenue of $4,401 million was down 1.1% from the prior-year quarter and was also below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $4,426 million. Of the total, Strategic revenues totaled $2,354 million, down 1.5% year over year. Legacy revenues accounted for $1,623 million, down 6.4%. Data Integration revenues grossed $116 million, down 17.1%. Other services contributed for the remaining $308 million, up 19.8%.

Quarterly operating expenses totaled $3,707 million, down 2.5% year over year. Meanwhile, operating income was $694 million compared with $649 million in the year-ago quarter.

Cash Flow

In the first quarter of 2016, CenturyLink generated $1,690 million of adjusted cash from operations compared with $1,735 million in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted free cash flow, in the reported quarter, was $824 million compared with $857 million in the year-ago quarter.

Liquidity

CenturyLink exited first-quarter 2016 with $438 million of cash and cash equivalents compared with $126 million at the end of 2015. At first-quarter end, total debt was $20,025 million compared with $20,225 million at the end of 2015. Meanwhile, the debt-to-capitalization ratio was 0.58 at quarter-end, as compared with 0.57 at the end of 2015.

Segmental Results

Business segment revenues dropped 3.4% year over year to $2,604 million in the first quarter. Segmental profits totaled $1,177 million, down 4.6% year over year. Segmental profit margin was 45.2% against 45.8% in the year-ago quarter.

Consumer segment revenues were $1,489 million, down 0.5% year over year. Segmental profits were $865 million, down 2.7% year over year. Segmental profit margin was 58.1% compared with 59.4% in the year-ago quarter.

Subscriber Statistics

As of Mar 31, 2016, total access lines were 11.611 million, down 5.4% year over year. High-speed broadband customer count were 6.056 million, down nearly 1% and Prism TV customers were 0.302 million, up 21.3%. In the reported quarter, CenturyLink lost 8,000 high-speed broadband subscribers and 137,000 access lines but gained 17,000 Prism TV subscribers.   
 
Q2 Outlook

For the second quarter of 2016, the company projects adjusted earnings per share and operating revenues in the range of 57 cents to 62 cents and $4.38 billion to $4.43 billion, respectively. Core revenues are estimated within the range of $3.94 billion to $3.99 billion. Operating cash flow is projected between $1.59 billion and $1.64 billion.

FY16 Guidance

For full-year 2016, the company expects adjusted earnings per share and operating revenues in the range of $2.50 to $2.70 and $17.55 billion to $17.80 billion, respectively. Core revenues will likely be within $15.75 billion to $16.00 billion. Operating cash flow is projected between $6.6 billion and $6.8 billion. Free cash flow is estimated in the band of $1.8 billion to $2.0 billion.

Stocks to Consider

CenturyLink currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the same sector are Windstream Holdings Inc. WIN, BCE Inc. BCE and TELUS Corporation TU. All the three stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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TELUS CORP (TU): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
BCE INC (BCE): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CENTURYLINK INC (CTL): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
WINDSTREAM HLDG (WIN): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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