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CenturyLink Inc. shares dropped more than 7% in after-hours trading following an earnings report that showed sales and profit declining faster than expected. The telecommunications firm reported third-quarter profit of $272 million, or 25 cents a share, on sales of $5.82 billion, down from $6 billion a year ago. After adjustments for the recent Level 3 acquisition and other effects, the company reported earnings of 30 cents a share, down from 42 cents a share a year ago. Analysts on average expected adjusted earnings of 30 cents a share on sales of $5.88 billion. The stock closed with a 1.8% decline at $21.08 before dropping about 7.5% in after-hours trading. Shares were up 26.4% so far this year, as the S&P 500 index has gained 5.3%. Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.