* Q4 adj $0.95 vs est $0.88
* Revenue $1.84 bln in line with Street view
* Raises quarterly dividend
* CenturyTel shares down 3 pct
Feb 25 (Reuters) - CenturyTel Inc CTL.N, which is changing its name to CenturyLink, posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit as revenue nearly tripled due to its acquisition of Embarq, but the rural telephone operator forecast weak first-quarter revenue.
The company also increased its quarterly dividend by 4 pct to 72.5 cents per share.
For the first quarter, CenturyLink expects earnings of 84 cents to 88 cents per share, on revenue of $1.77 billion to $1.80 billion.
Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 87 cents per share, on revenue of $1.82 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Lower voice-related revenue, primarily due to anticipated access line losses, will hurt earnings in 2010, CenturyTel said.
The company’s fourth-quarter profit rose to $230.2 million or 77 cents per share, from $100.1 million, or $1.00 per share, a year ago, before its purchase of Embarq. Excluding items, it earned 95 cents a share.
The number of outstanding shares more than tripled to 299.2 million from a year ago.
Operating revenue almost tripled to $1.84 billion, with Embarq contributing $1.27 billion.
Analysts were expecting earnings of 88 cents per share on revenue of $1.84 billion.
The company added nearly 47,000 high-speed Internet customers, implying an 8 percent rise sequentially.
Shares of the company were trading down 3 percent at $34.23 Thursday morning on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Mansi Dutta in Bangalore; Editing by Anne Pallivathuckal)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.