You have to buy before the ex-dividend date to be the owner of record for the dividend. From Dividend.com:
Amount Ex-Dividend Date Record Date Pay Date Declare Date Qualified? [?] Type
$0.725 9/1/2011 9/6/2011 9/16/2011 8/23/2011 Yes Regular
MONROE, La., Aug. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE:CTL - News) today announced that its Board of Directors voted to declare a quarterly cash dividend of $.725 per share, payable on September 16, 2011, to shareholders of record on September 6, 2011.
CTL will drop by about the amount of the dividend on ex-dividend day, so it is basically a wash, i.e. do not pay up a bad price expecting to get both the dividend and no stock drop. Most stocks drop by more than the dividend amount within a few days or weeks of going ex-dividend.
Nice pop today if you bought Friday for the div, this should hold and keep you above the drop on xdiv date.
Insider buying now at these levels and very little short interest on the float. It appears that this will remain a good investment, rather than trade for the medium term. CTL has been beaten down by the market volatility. There is concern about the integrations for Embarq, Qwest and Savvis, but those things will occur in their time and will add to the strength of CTL.
No div raise does not raise concern for me, because at 8+ percent div there really is no need to raise it at this time. The rate is 4+ times what you can get in savings or MM account and at least twice the US bond rates.
It also has upside potential at these prices.