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Qwest Profit Up as High-Speed Subscribers Rise

U.S. phone company Qwest Communications International Tuesday reported an 89 percent rise in quarterly profit, boosted by an income tax benefit and an increase in high-speed Internet subscribers.

Qwest shares were up more than 6 percent in early trade on the New York Stock Exchange, rising by 32 cent to $5.45 on the New York Stock Exchange after it said it cut total operating costs and boosted revenue from its key growth areas.

Qwest said its quarterly profit in the period ending Dec 31 totaled $366 million, or 20 cents per share, from $194 million, or 10 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding $106 million in income tax benefits, the quarterly profit was 14 cents a share, matching analysts average expectations according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue for Qwest, whose bigger peers include AT&T and Verizon Communications , fell to $3.44 billion from $3.49 billion a year earlier but was on par with Wall Street views.

Qwest said its number of broadband subscribers grew by 95,000 in the quarter, a decline from an increase of 165,000 in the fourth quarter of 2006. However, total data, Internet and video revenue grew 8.7 percent.

Bank of America analyst David Bardan said the broadband subscriber growth was "relatively in line" with his target.

"We see no signs yet of material business weakness that would dramatically alter the company's cash flow story," he said.

Shares of Qwest, which is seen as one of the weakest former Bell operating companies, over the past year has tumbled 37 percent compared to a 2 percent decline in Verizon shares in the same period.

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