on Thursday. The highlight of the report focused on 24,000 net new broadband adds, bringing CenturyTel’s total broadband subscriber base to 665,000. CenturyTel now reports a 34% broadband penetration of access lines. According to chairman and CEO Glen F. Post III, the broadband growth for 1Q09 improved 81% over 4Q08. That’s welcome news to CenturyTel. According to our most recent market report, , CenturyTel saw a significant decline in broadband growth during 2008. Their rate of broadband growth declined by 170% from 1Q08 to 4Q08.

On the financial side, excluding nonrecurring items, operating revenues fell 2% year-over-year to $635.4 million, GAAP net income dropped more than 24%, from $88.8 million to $67.2 million, while GAAP diluted earnings per share fell 18.3%, from $0.82 to $0.67. Diluted EPS on a non-GAAP basis rose 2.5% to $0.82 from $0.80 in Q108. A share buyback program reduced the number of CenturyTel shares outstanding, impacting the latter positively. Free cash flow was $170.4 million, about 2% more than than the $167.1 million generated in last year’s first quarter, management reported. Management expects Q209 total revenues to come in between $628 and $638 million, with diluted earnings per share falling between $0.77 and $0.81.

Other CenturyTel news revealed during their earnings call includes an update on the . “We have made solid progress toward completing the EMBARQ merger as both companies’ shareholders overwhelmingly approved the merger in late January and to date, we have received approval from 10 of the 15 states which require formal approval,” said Post. The merger is on track to close sometime in 2Q09. CenturyTel also announced the expansion of IPTV trials into additional markets.

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