Level 3 posts profit for second straight quarter

BROOMFIELD – Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) posted its second quarterly profit in a row Wednesday after nearly five years of consecutive quarterly losses.

The Broomfield-based telecommunications company posted net income of $112 million for the first quarter ending March 31 compared with a net loss of $78 million for the same period a year ago. The profit amounted to diluted earnings per share of 47 cents.

The first-quarter gain was an increase from Level 3’s fourth-quarter 2013 profit of $14 million, which was the company’s first profit since the final quarter of 2008.

Level 3’s shares surged on the news, rising as high as $42.20 early Wednesday before tapering off to $40.94 by late morning – still up more than 10 percent from the previous day’s close.

“We started out the year with another good quarter,” Level 3’s president and chief executive Jeff Storey said in the company’s earnings report. “The results reflect our focus on execution and emphasis on profitable growth. We continue to capture market share by helping enterprises optimize their cost structure while moving to newer, more scalable technologies.”

Level 3’s first-quarter profit came on revenue of $1.609 billion, up from $1.577 billion a year ago.

Core network services revenue – from colocation and data center services, transport and fiber, internet provider and data services, and voice services – continued to surge, rising to $1.457 billion. Wholesale voice services and other revenue meanwhile, fell to $152 million versus $205 million a year ago.

The company finished the first quarter with $607 million of cash and cash equivalents. The company adjusted up its 2014 outlook for generating free cash flow to the range of $250 million to $300 million.

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