MONROE, La., May 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- CenturyTel, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) announces operating results for first quarter 2007.

    (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20060628/DAW039LOGO)

    -- Operating revenues, excluding nonrecurring items, were $600.9 million
       compared to $610.0 million in first quarter 2006. Reported under GAAP,
       first quarter 2006 operating revenues were $611.3 million.

    -- Net income, excluding nonrecurring items, rose 7.8% to $77.9 million
       from $72.3 million in first quarter 2006. Reported under GAAP, first
       quarter 2006 net income was $69.3 million.

    -- Diluted earnings per share, excluding nonrecurring items, was $.68 in
       first quarter 2007 compared to $.57 in first quarter 2006. Reported
       under GAAP, diluted earnings per share was $.55 in first quarter 2006.

    -- Free cash flow (as defined in the attached financial schedules),
       excluding nonrecurring items, was $156.8 million in first quarter 2007
       compared to $147.0 million in first quarter 2006.

    -- High-speed Internet customers increased by more than 43,900 in first
       quarter 2007, ending the quarter with nearly 413,000 high-speed
       Internet customers in service.


    First Quarter Highlights

    (Excluding nonrecurring       Quarter Ended   Quarter Ended
     items)                          3/31/07         3/31/06      % Change
    (In thousands, except per
     share amounts and customer
     data)

    Operating Revenues          $     600,855    $   609,979        (1.5)%
    Operating Cash Flow(1)      $     295,867    $   297,659        (0.6)%
    Net Income                  $      77,870    $    72,256         7.8 %
    Diluted Earnings Per Share  $         .68    $       .57        19.3 %
    Average Diluted Shares            116,308        127,959        (9.1)%
    Outstanding                 $      48,880    $    60,088       (18.7)%
    Capital Expenditures

    Access Lines(2)                 2,070,000      2,177,000        (4.9)%
    High-speed Internet
     Customers                        413,000        286,000        44.4 %




    (1) Operating Cash Flow is a non-GAAP financial measure. A reconciliation
        of this item to comparable GAAP measures is included in the attached
        financial schedules.
    (2) Quarter ended 3/31/2006 access lines include adjustments made during
        2006 to reflect the removal of test lines, database conversion and
        clean-up, and the sale of our Arizona properties.

"CenturyTel achieved a record 43,900 high-speed Internet customer additions during the quarter, reflecting strong demand for our broadband services," Glen F. Post, III, chairman and chief executive officer, said. "We continue to focus on bringing a full array of high-quality, reliable communications services and enhanced broadband content to our markets."

Operating revenues, excluding nonrecurring items, were $600.9 million in first quarter 2007 compared to $610.0 million in first quarter 2006. Revenue increases, driven primarily by growth in high-speed Internet customers and demand for fiber transport services, were more than offset by anticipated revenue declines primarily attributable to access line declines and lower access revenues along with lower revenues due to changes in the terms of the Company's DBS agreement effective January 1, 2007.

Operating expenses, excluding nonrecurring items, for first quarter 2007 were $432.8 million compared to $447.2 million in first quarter 2006. This decrease primarily resulted from lower personnel related costs due to workforce reductions in 2006, lower marketing, information technology and bad debt expenses, lower depreciation and amortization primarily due to fully depreciated assets and lower expenses under the amended DBS agreement. Such decreases more than offset increased expenses driven by growth in high-speed Internet customers and fiber transport services.

Operating cash flow, excluding nonrecurring items, was $295.9 million in first quarter 2007 compared to $297.7 million in first quarter 2006. CenturyTel achieved an operating cash flow margin of 49.2% during the quarter versus 48.8% in first quarter 2006.

"CenturyTel generated quarterly free cash flow of nearly $157 million during the first quarter, reflecting our continued success in aligning our operating costs with revenues and our disciplined approach to making capital investments in our networks," Post said. "We also returned $171 million to shareholders through dividends and the repurchase of 3.7 million shares of common stock during the quarter."

Net income, excluding nonrecurring items, grew 7.8% to $77.9 million in first quarter 2007 from $72.3 million in first quarter 2006. Diluted earnings per share, excluding nonrecurring items, increased 19.3% to $.68 in first quarter 2007 from $.57 in first quarter 2006. First quarter 2007 diluted earnings per share was favorably impacted by the increase in net income and 9.1% fewer average diluted shares outstanding due to share repurchases.

Under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), CenturyTel reported operating revenues of $600.9 million in first quarter 2007 compared to $611.3 million in first quarter 2006. In first quarter 2007, the Company reported net income of $77.9 million and diluted earnings per share of $.68, compared to $69.3 million and $.55, respectively, in first quarter 2006. Net income and diluted earnings per share in first quarter 2006 include a $3.0 million net after-tax expense related to a reduction in workforce.

For second quarter 2007, CenturyTel expects total revenues of $600 to $610 million and diluted earnings per share of $.62 to $.67. The anticipated decline in diluted earnings per share from first quarter to second quarter 2007 is primarily due to annual wage adjustments effective in the second quarter, anticipated higher marketing expenses and the seasonal impact of outside plant maintenance activities.

For the full year 2007, diluted earnings per share is expected to be in the range of $2.75 to $2.85 versus the previous guidance of $2.60 to $2.70, primarily due to first quarter results exceeding expectations, share repurchases completed through April 30, and the expectation that expenses for the remainder of 2007 will be lower than originally anticipated when 2007 guidance was provided earlier this year.

These outlook figures for the second quarter and full year 2007 exclude nonrecurring items, any share repurchases made after April 30, 2007, and any future mergers, acquisitions, divestitures or other similar business transactions. These outlook figures also exclude any impact of our April 30, 2007 acquisition of Madison River Communications Corp. and a one-time $49 million positive pre-tax settlement related to network access disputes which were finalized during the second quarter.

Other. As previously reported, CenturyTel adopted the requirements of Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 108 (SAB 108) in fourth quarter 2006, which required the results of operations previously reported in the first, second and third quarters of 2006 to be adjusted. First quarter 2006 amounts included in this press release reflect amounts adjusted for the application of SAB 108.

Reconciliation to GAAP. This release includes certain non-GAAP financial measures, including but not limited to operating cash flow, free cash flow and adjustments to GAAP measures to exclude the effect of nonrecurring items. In addition to providing key metrics for management to evaluate the Company's performance, we believe these measurements assist readers in their understanding of period-to-period operating performance and in identifying historical and prospective trends. Reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures to the most comparable GAAP measures are included in the attached financial statements. Reconciliation of additional non-GAAP financial measures that may be discussed during the earnings call described below will be available on the Company's Web site at http://www.centurytel.com. Investors are urged to consider these non-GAAP measures in addition to, and not in substitution for, measures prepared in accordance with GAAP.

Investor Call. As previously announced, CenturyTel's management will host a conference call at 10:30 a.m. Central Time today. Interested parties can access the call by dialing 866.259.7123. The call will be accessible for replay through May 9, 2007, by calling 888.266.2081 and entering the conference ID number 1067862. Investors can also listen to CenturyTel's earnings conference call and replay by accessing the Investor Relations portion of the Company's Web site at http://www.centurytel.com prior to May 24, 2007.

In addition to historical information, this release includes certain forward-looking statements, estimates and projections that are based on current expectations only, and are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, many of which are beyond the control of the Company. Actual events and results may differ materially from those anticipated, estimated or projected if one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or if underlying assumptions prove incorrect. Factors that could affect actual results include but are not limited to: the timing, success and overall effects of competition from a wide variety of competitive providers; the risks inherent in rapid technological change; the effects of ongoing changes in the regulation of the communications industry; the Company's ability to effectively manage its expansion opportunities, including continued access to capital markets on favorable terms, successfully integrating newly-acquired properties into the Company's operations, and retaining and hiring key personnel; possible changes in the demand for, or pricing of, the Company's products and services; the Company's ability to successfully introduce new product or service offerings on a timely and cost-effective basis; the Company's ability to collect its receivables from financially troubled communications companies; the Company's ability to successfully negotiate collective bargaining agreements on reasonable terms without work stoppages; the effect of adverse weather; other risks referenced from time to time in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"); and the effects of more general factors such as changes in interest rates, in tax rates, in accounting policies or practices, in operating, medical or administrative costs, in general market, labor or economic conditions, or in legislation, regulation or public policy. These and other uncertainties related to the Company's business are described in greater detail in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006, as updated by the Company's subsequent SEC reports. You should be aware that new factors may emerge from time to time and it is not possible for management to identify all such factors, nor can it predict the impact of each such factor on the business or the extent to which any one or more factors may cause actual results to differ from those reflected in any forward-looking statements. You are further cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this release. The information contained in this release is as of May 3, 2007. The Company undertakes no obligation to update any of its forward-looking statements for any reason.

    CenturyTel (NYSE: CTL) is a leading provider of communications, high speed
Internet and entertainment services in small-to-mid-size cities through our
broadband and fiber transport networks.  Included in the S&P 500 Index,
CenturyTel delivers advanced communications with a personal touch to customers
in 25 states.  Visit us at http://www.centurytel.com.



                                CenturyTel, Inc.
                        CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME
                   THREE MONTHS ENDED MARCH 31, 2007 AND 2006
                                   (UNAUDITED)

                                           Three months ended March 31, 2007
                                                                        As
                                                                     adjusted
                                                          Less       excluding
                                                          non-         non-
                                             As        recurring     recurring
     In thousands, except per share       reported       items         items
      amounts

     OPERATING REVENUES
        Voice                             $209,075                    209,075
        Network access                     211,399                    211,399
        Data                                95,864                     95,864
        Fiber transport and CLEC            38,326                     38,326
        Other                               46,191                     46,191
                                           600,855          -         600,855

     OPERATING EXPENSES
        Cost of services and products      213,531                    213,531
        Selling, general and
         administrative                     91,457                     91,457
        Depreciation and amortization      127,784                    127,784
                                           432,772          -         432,772

     OPERATING INCOME                      168,083          -         168,083

     OTHER INCOME (EXPENSE)
        Interest expense                   (46,961)                   (46,961)
        Other income (expense)               5,290                      5,290
        Income tax expense                 (48,542)                   (48,542)

     NET INCOME                            $77,870          -          77,870

     BASIC EARNINGS PER SHARE                $0.70         0.00          0.70
     DILUTED EARNINGS PER SHARE              $0.68         0.00          0.68

     AVERAGE SHARES OUTSTANDING
        Basic                              111,031                    111,031
        Diluted                            116,308                    116,308

    DIVIDENDS PER COMMON SHARE              $0.065                      0.065


                                          Three months ended March 31, 2006

                                                                 As adjusted
                                                     Less         excluding
                                                     non-            non-
                                        As         recurring      recurring
     In thousands, except            reported       items           items
      per share amounts

     OPERATING REVENUES
        Voice                        217,014                       217,014
        Network access               225,323         1,128(1)      224,195
        Data                          83,238           184(1)       83,054
        Fiber transport
         and CLEC                     35,780                        35,780
        Other                         49,936                        49,936
                                     611,291         1,312         609,979

     OPERATING EXPENSES
        Cost of services
         and products                222,555         5,493(1)      217,062
        Selling, general and
         administrative               95,940           682(1)       95,258
        Depreciation and
         amortization                134,872                       134,872
                                     453,367         6,175         447,192

     OPERATING INCOME                157,924        (4,863)        162,787

     OTHER INCOME (EXPENSE)
        Interest expense             (50,086)                      (50,086)
        Other income (expense)         4,597                         4,597
        Income tax expense           (43,175)        1,867(2)      (45,042)

     NET INCOME                       69,260        (2,996)         72,256

     BASIC EARNINGS PER SHARE           0.57         (0.02)           0.59
     DILUTED EARNINGS PER SHARE         0.55         (0.02)           0.57

     AVERAGE SHARES OUTSTANDING
        Basic                        122,394                       122,394
        Diluted                      127,959                       127,959

    DIVIDENDS PER COMMON SHARE        0.0625                        0.0625


                                                                Increase
                                                               (decrease)
                                              Increase         excluding
                                             (decrease)       nonrecurring
     In thousands, except per share          as reported         items
      amounts

     OPERATING REVENUES
         Voice                                  (3.7%)            (3.7%)
         Network access                         (6.2%)            (5.7%)
         Data                                   15.2%             15.4%
         Fiber transport and CLEC                7.1%              7.1%
         Other                                  (7.5%)            (7.5%)
                                                (1.7%)            (1.5%)

     OPERATING EXPENSES
         Cost of services and products          (4.1%)            (1.6%)
         Selling, general and
          administrative                        (4.7%)            (4.0%)
         Depreciation and amortization          (5.3%)            (5.3%)
                                                (4.5%)            (3.2%)

     OPERATING INCOME                            6.4%              3.3%

     OTHER INCOME (EXPENSE)
         Interest expense                       (6.2%)            (6.2%)
         Other income (expense)                 15.1%             15.1%
         Income tax expense                     12.4%              7.8%

     NET INCOME                                 12.4%              7.8%

     BASIC EARNINGS PER SHARE                   22.8%             18.6%
     DILUTED EARNINGS PER SHARE                 23.6%             19.3%

     AVERAGE SHARES OUTSTANDING
         Basic                                  (9.3%)            (9.3%)
         Diluted                                (9.1%)            (9.1%)

    DIVIDENDS PER COMMON SHARE                   4.0%              4.0%

     NONRECURRING ITEMS
       (1) -- Severance and related costs due to workforce reduction,
              including revenue impact.
       (2) -- Tax effect of item (1).



                                  CenturyTel, Inc.
                             CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
                        MARCH 31, 2007 AND DECEMBER 31, 2006
                                     (UNAUDITED)

                                                March 31,        December 31,
                                                  2007               2006
                                                       (in thousands)

                     ASSETS
    CURRENT ASSETS
        Cash and cash equivalents                $763,749             25,668
        Other current assets                      249,114            264,449
           Total current assets                 1,012,863            290,117

    NET PROPERTY, PLANT AND EQUIPMENT
        Property, plant and equipment           7,919,996          7,893,760
        Accumulated depreciation               (4,885,439)        (4,784,483)
           Net property, plant and
            equipment                           3,034,557          3,109,277

    GOODWILL AND OTHER ASSETS
        Goodwill                                3,431,136          3,431,136
        Other                                     611,555            610,477
            Total goodwill and other
             assets                             4,042,691          4,041,613


    TOTAL ASSETS                               $8,090,111          7,441,007


                LIABILITIES AND EQUITY
    CURRENT LIABILITIES
        Short-term debt and current
         maturities of long-term debt            $360,749            178,012
        Other current liabilities                 409,347            439,553
            Total current liabilities             770,096            617,565

    LONG-TERM DEBT                              2,916,511          2,412,852
    DEFERRED CREDITS AND OTHER
     LIABILITIES                                1,276,274          1,219,639
    STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY                        3,127,230          3,190,951

    TOTAL LIABILITIES AND EQUITY               $8,090,111          7,441,007



                                 CenturyTel, Inc.
                 RECONCILIATION OF NON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURES
                                  (UNAUDITED)


                                          Three months ended March 31, 2007

                                                                  As adjusted
                                              As        Less       excluding
                                           reported      non-        non-
                                                      recurring    recurring
     In thousands                                       items        items

     Operating cash flow
      and cash flow margin
       Operating income                    $168,083         -       168,083
       Add:  Depreciation and
        amortization                        127,784                 127,784
       Operating cash flow                 $295,867         -       295,867

       Revenues                            $600,855         -       600,855

       Operating income margin
        (operating income
        divided by revenues)                   28.0%                   28.0%

       Operating cash flow margin
        (operating cash flow
        divided by revenues)                   49.2%                   49.2%


     Free cash flow
      (prior to debt service
      requirements and dividends)
       Net income                           $77,870         -        77,870
       Add:  Depreciation and
        amortization                        127,784         -       127,784
       Less:  Capital expenditures          (48,880)        -       (48,880)
       Free cash flow                      $156,774         -       156,774

       Free cash flow                      $156,774
       Deferred income taxes                 13,371
       Changes in current assets and
        current liabilities                  33,892
       (Increase) decrease in other
        noncurrent assets                     1,032
       Increase (decrease) in other
        noncurrent liabilities                 (401)
       Retirement benefits                    5,636
       Excess tax benefits from
        share-based compensation             (3,032)
       Other, net                             2,558
       Add:  Capital expenditures            48,880
       Net cash provided by operating
        activities                         $258,710


                                          Three months ended March 31, 2006

                                                                  As adjusted
                                                        Less       excluding
                                                        non-          non-
     In thousands                             As     recurring     recurring
                                           reported    items         items
     Operating cash flow
      and cash flow margin
       Operating income                    $157,924    (4,863)(1)   162,787
       Add:  Depreciation and
        amortization                        134,872                 134,872
       Operating cash flow                 $292,796    (4,863)      297,659

       Revenues                            $611,291     1,312 (1)   609,979

       Operating income margin
        (operating income
        divided by revenues)                   25.8%                   26.7%

       Operating cash flow margin
        (operating cash flow
        divided by revenues)                   47.9%                   48.8%


     Free cash flow
      (prior to debt service
      requirements and dividends)
       Net income                           $69,260    (2,996)(1)    72,256
       Add:  Depreciation and
        amortization                        134,872         -       134,872
       Less:  Capital expenditures          (60,088)        -       (60,088)
       Free cash flow                      $144,044    (2,996)      147,040

       Free cash flow                      $144,044
       Deferred income taxes                  9,419
       Changes in current assets and
        current liabilities                 (32,057)
       (Increase) decrease in other
        noncurrent assets                    (2,590)
       Increase (decrease) in other
        noncurrent liabilities                1,392
       Retirement benefits                    7,378
       Excess tax benefits from
        share-based compensation             (4,186)
       Other, net                               542
       Add:  Capital expenditures            60,088
       Net cash provided by operating
        activities                         $184,030



     NONRECURRING ITEMS
       (1) -- Severance and related costs due to workforce reduction,
              including revenue impact (presented on both a pre-tax and an
              after-tax basis).

SOURCE CenturyTel, Inc.