Shares of CenturyLink (LUMN -0.27%) dropped 11.6% in August, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The month started with a solid second-quarter report, but the regional telecom followed up with disappointing next-quarter guidance. The stock promptly started falling, and never reversed course.
CenturyLink's second-quarter earnings came in 5% above Wall Street's consensus estimate, and revenue was in line with expectations. Looking ahead, management's earnings guidance for the third quarter stopped roughly 12% short of analysts' then-current projections.
CEO Glen Post said that the second quarter was a "solid" effort, thanks to tight cost controls and strong demand for high-end business data services. On the downside, legacy revenue from slower, copper-based connections is shrinking quickly. The end result of this balancing act is a combination of solid profit margins but stagnant sales.
This is a common story in today's telecom industry. CenturyLink's picture is simply changing a bit faster than many of its rivals', because the company is also doubling down on business-grade services at the expense of consumer-level sales.
CenturyLink investors have seen a 13% return in 2016, which is about double the year-to-date gains of the S&P 500, the market's barometer. But the stock is hardly expensive, even so.
The stock's enterprise value currently sits at 5 times trailing EBITDA profits, which is low for the industry at large. At the same time, CenturyLink offers a generous 7.7% dividend yield at today's prices. Patient and risk-tolerant investors might want to lock in that juicy dividend yield before the company's business-oriented focus starts to pay off.