CenturyLink Authorizes $2.0 Billion Stock Repurchase Program; Reduces Quarterly Cash Dividend
CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) today announced that the company's board of directors has authorized certain capital allocation initiatives that further enable its strategy of investing in key drivers to stabilize and grow operating revenues.
The CenturyLink board has authorized the repurchase of up to an aggregate $2.0 billion of the company's outstanding common stock. The company expects to execute this share repurchase program primarily in open market transactions, subject to market conditions and other factors, and expects to complete the program by its scheduled termination date of February 13, 2015. CenturyLink intends to fund the share repurchase program primarily with free cash flow generated by the business.
In connection with the new repurchase program, the board also indicated its intention to revise the company's quarterly dividend rate to $0.54 from $0.725 per share. The board expects to approve this new rate at its next regularly-scheduled meeting on February 26, 2013, with the change effective with the March 2013 quarterly dividend payment.
CenturyLink also expects to utilize a portion of its free cash flow generated in 2013 and 2014 to repay debt and maintain leverage at less than 3.0 times EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization).
"CenturyLink has made significant progress over the last several years in improving our top-line revenue trend," said Glen F. Post, III, chief executive officer and president. "We have continued to achieve strong operating revenue performance, cash flows and broadband growth, and we remain focused on enhancing long-term shareholder value.
"The share repurchase program, which will be accretive to free cash flow per share, along with our very competitive cash dividend, will enable us to significantly increase the total cash returned to our shareholders in 2013 and 2014. Additionally, we are positioning the company to maintain a dividend payout ratio of less than 60 percent of free cash flow after we have fully utilized our federal income tax net operating loss carryforwards," said Post.
"We are confident that the capital allocation initiatives we announced today will allow us to continue our investments to drive strategic revenue growth, while maintaining our focus on creating long-term shareholder value," concluded Post.
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