Level 3 shares climb after company posts sixth quarterly profit in a row

BROOMFIELD – Level 3 Communications Inc.’s share price was up 3.4 percent in afternoon trading Wednesday following the company’s earnings report that showed a sixth-straight quarterly profit.

For its first full quarter since the acquisition of rival TW Telecom, Level 3 posted net income of $122 million. That’s up 9 percent from Level 3’s mark for the same period a year ago, but up 23 percent from Level 3’s and TW Telecom’s combined earnings in the first quarter last year.

The latest earnings, for the period ending March 31, amounted to 35 cents per diluted share, up from 29 cents per share a year ago if the two companies had been combined then.

In addition to the strong earnings, Level 3 adjusted its outlook for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, as well as for free cash flow. The company now expects to generate free cash flow of $600 million to $650 million for the full year 2015, up from its prior outlook of $550 million to $600 million.

Level 3 closed the $5.7 billion acquisition of Littleton-based TW Telecom in October, and confirmed last month that some layoffs, accounting for less than 5 percent of Level 3’s global workforce, would occur as a result of the merger.

“Level 3 had a solid start to the year, progressing on integration and generating profitable growth,” Level 3 CEO Jeff Storey said in a prepared statement. “Customers are seeing the benefits of the acquisition, including our differentiated products and solutions, expanded network footprint and customer-first approach.”

The earnings beat analysts’ estimates, though revenue fell just short at $2.053 billion. The company generated free cash flow of $51 million. It finished the quarter with more than $1.1 billion in cash and cash equivalents.