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CenturyLink Posts Q2 Earnings, Upgrades 2018 Outlook

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MONROE, La., -- CenturyLink today reported results for the second quarter 2018.

"Our continued progress on integration efforts contributed to a solid quarter, with strong growth in Adjusted EBITDA and Free Cash Flow," said Jeff Storey, president and CEO of CenturyLink. "Across the company, we are focused on profitable growth and providing a better experience for our customers and employees."

Total revenue was $5.90 billion for the second quarter 2018, compared to $6.04 billion for the second quarter 2017 on a pro forma basis.

Diluted earnings per share was $0.27 for the second quarter 2018, compared to diluted earnings per share of $0.06 for the second quarter 2017. Diluted earnings per share for the second quarter 2018, excluding the benefit of $10 million of after-tax integration-related expenses and special items, was $0.26.

As of January 1, 2018, the company prospectively adopted the new revenue recognition standard (ASC 606). The adoption of this new standard negatively affected total revenue in the second quarter 2018 by approximately $11 million, with a $27 million negative effect on Consumer revenue and an overall $16 million positive effect on Business revenue. Within Business, the revenue recognition standard had a benefit of approximately $14 million to the Medium and Small Business unit and approximately $4 million to the International and Global Accounts business unit. The Enterprise and the Wholesale and Indirect business units were affected minimally.

Free Cash Flow, excluding integration-related expenses and special items, was $919 million in the second quarter 2018, compared to $102 million in the second quarter 2017 on a pro forma basis.

As of June 30, 2018, CenturyLink had cash and cash equivalents of $700 million.

For the year-to-date, the company has contributed a total of $500 million to the pension plan. During the second quarter 2018, the company received a tax refund of $314 million and made its previously planned $100 million contribution to the pension plan. Following the close of the quarter, the company received an additional tax refund of $392 million and made a $400 million additional pension plan contribution.

CenturyLink exited the second quarter 2018 with approximately $675 million of annualized run-rate Adjusted EBITDA synergies, related to the Level 3 acquisition, compared to $215 million as of the end of the first quarter 2018.

Integration-related expenses and special items in the second quarter 2018 were $162 million, of which $160 million impacted Adjusted EBITDA and $108 million impacted Free Cash Flow. As of the end of the second quarter 2018, CenturyLink incurred a total of approximately $395 million in Level 3 integration-related expenses.

"With our strong synergy attainment in the first half of 2018 along with our continued focus on profitable revenue growth, we are increasing our outlook for full year 2018 Adjusted EBITDA and Free Cash Flow," said Sunit Patel, CenturyLink's executive vice president and chief financial officer, regarding the 2018 business outlook.

"We now expect full year 2018 Adjusted EBITDA of $9.00 to $9.15 billion, compared to our previous outlook of $8.75 to $8.95 billion. In addition, we increased our Free Cash Flow outlook to $3.60 to $3.80 billion from $3.15 to $3.35 billion."

The company has also updated full year 2018 outlook measures for Free Cash Flow after Dividends and for the Full Year Effective Tax Rate.

CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL)

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