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Lucent considers reverse stock split

At risk of being kicked off the New York Stock Exchange, the telecom equipment company mulls the action as a way to boost its battered stock price.

Lucent Technologies is considering a reverse stock split in an attempt to boost its stock price back into double digits.

Shares of the troubled telecom equipment maker have sunk to below $1 over the past 30 days, putting the company at risk of being kicked off the New York Stock Exchange.

The new proposal will go to a vote before shareholders in February. Lucent did not say what the ratio would be, but added that it anticipated its ultimate stock price to be between $15 and $25. Lucent closed Thursday at 75 cents, and it has been trading under $1 since the end of September.

Lucent said last week that it would lay off an additional 10,000 workers and report a wider-than-expected loss for the fourth quarter. Lucent and other companies serving the telecommunications sector have had a tough row to hoe over the past year, as carriers have cut back drastically on their spending.

In another indicator of the tough market for telecom companies, wireless giant Ericsson announced that it was changing the ratio for trading its shares on the Nasdaq. Ericsson is a Swedish company, and its stock trades in the United States as depository shares. Currently, those shares have a 1-to-1 ratio with the company's Class B stock, but the new ratio will be 10-to-1. The new ratio effectively serves as a reverse split.

Ericsson said the move would allow it to comply with Nasdaq listing requirements. Ericsson closed Thursday at 54 cents, and it has been trading under $1 since July.

Separately in the telecom equipment sector, Tellabs reported a net loss for the third quarter of $91.1 million, or 22 cents a share, down from a loss of $49.5 million, or 12 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding one-time charges, the company lost $16.6 million, or 4 cents per share, a bit better than analysts had been expecting. A survey conducted by First Call found that analysts, on average, thought the company would report a loss of 6 cents per share excluding charges.