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Little Rock-based Windstream on Thursday said its net income fell 34 percent in the third quarter, dropping to $31 million from $47 million a year earlier.

The telecommunications company also reported total revenue and sales down from $1.55 billion last year to $1.5 billion this year. Operating income, meanwhile, fell from $237 million in third-quarter 2012 to $220 million in the most recent quarter.

Windstream noted that those results include an "after-tax loss on the early extinguishment of debt and merger and integration, restructuring and other expense." If those figures were excluded, earnings per share would have been in line with last year's third quarter at 8 cents per share, the company said. With those items included, earnings per share were 5 cents in the latest quarter.

President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Gardner said in a statement that the company produced strong free cash flow through growth in business and broadband revenue as well as "declining capital expenditures and lower cash interest expense."

Under pro forma results, business service revenue was $916 million, up 1 percent from $906 million the year before, and consumer broadband service revenue came to $119 million, up 4 percent from the previous year.

“We are confident that our strategy to transform Windstream into an enterprise-focused company enhances our growth opportunities and positions us for continued success," Gardner said. "Windstream generates substantial free cash flow which supports our dividend. As we look forward, we will remain focused on creating and returning value to our shareholders.”

The board of directors on Wednesday declared a 25-cent-per-share quarterly dividend, which it has done since November 2006.

Windstream will host a conference call on the results at 7:30 a.m. It can be accessed by calling (877) 374-3977 and using conference ID 65100623. A replay will be available from 10:30 a.m. Thursday through midnight Nov. 14 by calling (855) 859-2056 and using the same ID. The call will also be streamed online and posted there later for replay.

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