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Qwest is resuming a shareholder dividend after a six-year absence. The quarterly dividend will be 8 cents a share, representing a more than 4.5% annual yield based on Qwest's stock price of $7. That's comparable with the dividend yields of AT&T and Verizon.

"The company is in a position once again to fulfill its longstanding commitment to reward its stockholders," Qwest CEO Ed Mueller said in a statement Thursday.

Predecessor U S West was paying quarterly dividends of 53.5 cents before the merger with Qwest in 2000. Nacchio slashed the dividend to 5 cents a share annually, then eliminated it altogether in 2001.

Donna Jaegers, a telecommunications analyst at Janco Partners in Greenwood Village, said the quarterly dividend is a couple of cents higher than what she anticipated.

Jaegers said it might mean Mueller, who is expected to announce Qwest's strategic plan Monday, "won't be doing anything drastic in terms of investing in" TV services.

She is looking for Mueller to provide a plan to increase revenues, strengthen the company's nationwide fiber-optic business and better defend Qwest's 14-state core phone franchise from cable and wireless competitors.
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