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Windstream Holdings Inc. reported net income of $41.3 million in the third quarter compared with a net loss of $101.5 million in the same period last year, the Little Rock telecommunications company said Thursday.

Windstream earned 97 cents a share, beating the average estimate of a $2.60 loss projected by nine analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Pleased investors pushed the stock up by more than 12 percent as Windstream closed at $5.11 a share, up 55 cents in trading on the Nasdaq exchange.

"Windstream delivered a strong third quarter, highlighting the progress of our transformation of the company," Tony Thomas, Windstream's chief executive officer, said in a conference call Thursday with analysts.

The company added 8,400 broadband customers in the third quarter, its strongest residential subscriber growth in years, Thomas said.

For comparison, Windstream added 2,300 broadband subscribers in the second quarter this year.

"This growth is clear evidence that customers are responding as we deploy faster broadband speeds across our very rural footprint," Thomas said. "We will continue to build on that success. We expect to double the availability of [high-speed] Internet service to 30 percent of the households in our markets by the end of March 2019."

An analyst asked Thomas about the success rate of the high-speed Internet product in markets where it is offered by Windstream.

"Our team does a good job of selling faster speeds when it is available to them," Thomas said. "Roughly we sell that [high speed Internet] 7 out of 10 times. But it really varies by geography."

Windstream had revenue of $1.4 billion in the third quarter, down slightly from $1.5 billion in the same period last year.

Windstream's balance sheet continues to improve because it has no bonds maturing until 2023, Thomas said.

Over the past year, Windstream has made significant progress on refinancing and extending maturities on $3.4 billion of debt, said Bob Gunderman, Windstream's chief financial officer.

For the first nine months of this year, Windstream lost about $174 million compared with a loss of $281 million for the same period last year. Windstream lost $4.32 per share through nine months this year, down from $8.50 a share through nine months last year.

The company had $4.3 billion in revenue for the first nine months of the year, down from $4.4 billion for the same period last year.

Business on 11/09/2018

Print Headline: Windstream's net at $41.3M; Little Rock telecom beats analysts’ forecasts of third-quarter loss

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