AP News

Level 3 Communications returns to profit in 4Q

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (AP) — Level 3 Communications Inc. returned to a profit in its fourth quarter, bolstered by a Latin America tax benefit and lower expenses.

The profit surprised Wall Street — and was the Internet and telecommunications company's first after 19 consecutive quarterly losses. It also issued upbeat guidance for 2014.

The stock climbed to its highest level in more than two years.

Level 3 Communications earned $14 million, or 6 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares with a loss of $56 million, or 26 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet predicted a loss of 7 cents per share.

The company's stock gained $3.07, or 10 percent, to $34.48 in afternoon trading. The shares rose to $34.83 earlier in the session, the highest point since July 2011.

The results from the latest quarter included a one-time, legacy Latin America non-income tax benefit of $10 million.

Total costs and expenses declined to $1.38 billion from $1.43 billion.

Revenue dipped 1 percent to $1.6 billion from $1.61 billion. This still managed to beat Wall Street's estimate of $1.59 billion.

For the year, Level 3 lost $109 million, or 49 cents per share. In the previous year the company lost $422 million, or $1.96 per share.

Annual revenue edged down 1 percent to $6.31 billion from $6.38 billion.

For 2014, the company said it expects its core network services revenue growth to be higher than the 2.9 percent growth it saw in 2013, on a constant currency basis.

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