Windstream Income Falls on Higher Costs

Windstream Corp.’s (WIN) profit fell 7 percent in the fourth quarter as the rural LEC reported declining landline sales and higher costs.

Revenue dropped by 3 percent to $754.4 million while profit also slumped to $75.5 million, or 17 cents per share, down from $81.1 million, or 19 cents per share, a year earlier. Windstream booked 8 cents per share in charges for pension, merger and integration, restructuring and amortization costs.

The Arkansas-based telecom service provider spent much of last year snapping up smaller companies to combat the effects of the economic recession. More customers cut the cord, so Windstream worked to shore up its Internet, television and, most recently, business market share, by buying companies specializing in those fields. Its most significant purchase was the $647 million buyout of CLEC NuVox. The deal gave Windstream near-instant access to dozens of new markets, not to mention a strong distribution channel focused solely on business subscribers.

Jeff Gardner, president and CEO of Windstream, said the acquisitions “will help us sustain revenue and cash flow over time.”

He also pointed out that Windstream reduced its credit risk by raising the capital to fund its takeovers and extending most of its bank debt maturities.

Meanwhile, Windstream said it added 27,500 high-speed Internet users for a total of 1.1 million, a 16 percent rise over the year-ago quarter. The company further signed 9,900 net new digital TV customers for a total of 269,400. And net access lines hit 3 million, down by 35,000, after Windstream adjusted for the Lexcom Inc. and D&E Communications acquisition. Average revenue per user, however, grew by 2 percent.

Windstream shares were trading for $10.59, .76 percent higher, at 12:12 p.m. Eastern.

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