Qwest Communications International Inc. (Q) on Tuesday said its third-quarter loss narrowed on continued cost cutting.

Qwest (search), the Denver-based local telephone company, said its loss totaled $144 million, or 8 cents per share, compared with $569 million, or 31 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding a one-time charge, Qwest said its losses were 7 cents a share, matching analysts' average forecast, according to Reuters Estimates (search).

Qwest, the fourth-largest U.S. local telephone company (search), has struggled to keep pace with its three larger peers because of a $17 billion debt load and lack of a wireless business.

But after unsuccessfully offering more than $9 billion to buy MCI Inc. (MCIP), Qwest's shares have steadied and are up 11 percent since June 1, as investors bet on cost cuts to improve profitability.