November 5, 2009 / 1:45 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-CenturyTel profit rises after Embarq deal

* Q3 shr $0.94 vs year-ago $0.83

* Q3 rev $1.87 bln vs Wall St view $1.88 bln

* Sees Q4 sequential profit drop, revenue increase

* Shares up nearly 3 pct

(Adds analyst comment, share price update)

NEW YORK, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Rural telephone operator CenturyTel Inc (CTL.N), which is changing its name to CenturyLink, said its quarterly profit tripled and revenue jumped due to its July purchase of another operator Embarq.

Its profit rose to $280.8 million, or 94 cents per share from $84.7 million, or 83 cents per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Operating revenue rose to $1.87 billion, including a $1.3 billion revenue contribution from Embarq. In comparison Wall Street had expected revenue of $1.88 billion according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. It posted revenue of $650.1 million a year earlier.

Like bigger operators such as AT&T Inc (T.N) and Verizon Communications (VZ.N), CenturyTel is facing home phone disconnections as consumers switch to cable services or depend entirely on cellphones to help cut costs.

But Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher King said CenturyTel’s phone lines eroded slower than expected during the quarter.

“Trends looked a little better than expected from an access line standpoint,” King said citing 170,000 line losses compared with his expectation for 208,000.

The company forecast fourth-quarter earnings per share of of 84 cents to 88 cents on revenue in a range of $1.81 billion to $1.85 billion.

Its shares were up 94 cents at $34.13 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Sinead Carew, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Derek Caney)

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