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Level 3 shares gain on stock offering

The growing long-distance and data carrier reports a fourth quarter net loss and announces a secondary offering of common stock.

Level 3 Communications, a growing long-distance and data carrier, reported a fourth quarter net loss today and announced a secondary offering of common stock.

Level 3 posted a net loss of $35 million, or 11 cents a share, for the quarter ended December 31, compared with a net profit of $167 million, or 18 cents a share, for the year-ago period.

Stock in the company rose more than 5 percent to close at 54.6875. Shares have traded as high as 60.625 and as low as 19.875 in the past 52 weeks.

The company's net loss included a pre-tax gain of $116 million related to its investments and a $20 million charge for software development.

Quarterly revenue rose to $96 million from $90 million a year ago.

Level 3 also announced plans to offer another 20 million shares in a secondary offering of its common stock. The company will use the proceeds "in connection with the implementation of its business plan."

Level 3's business plan calls for the build-out of a new fiber optic packet-switched voice and data network. The company estimates it will have 9,500 miles of fiber completed during the first half of 2000, and expects to complete the U.S. portion of its 16,000-mile network in the first quarter of 2001.

For the 1998 fiscal year, the company posted an operating loss of $202 million, or 67 cents a share, on revenue of $392 million. In 1997, Level 3 earned $248 million, or 33 cents a share, on revenue of $332 million.