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SBC cuts earnings projections

The telecommunications provider blames higher expenses on DSL expansion, service upgrades and the acquisition of Sterling Commerce.

    SBC Communications lowered first-quarter earnings expectations Thursday.

    The supplier of telecommunications services and products now sees first-quarter net income of 50 cents to 53 cents per share. Analyst consensus was predicting a profit of 59 cents per share for SBC's quarter ending in March, according to earnings tracking firm First Call.

    Higher expenses related to the acquisition of Sterling Commerce, DSL expansion and service upgrades affected first-quarter results, SBC said. The company has previously cited those projects, which have been ongoing since the second quarter of last year, as reasons to explain lower earnings growth than analysts originally expected for 2001.

    The company remains on track for a gain of 11 percent to 14 percent in full-year earnings, and 8 percent to 9 percent growth in revenue, SBC said.

    "Our core business and growth assets are solid; we have financial strength and flexibility, and we are intensely focused on operations and winning with customers," said CEO Edward J. Whitacre. "These factors add to our confidence that SBC is on track to achieve strong earnings growth in 2001."

    Shares of SBC traded at $45.55 in after-hours activity on the Island ECN. SBC fell $2.20 to $45.50 in Thursday's regular trading.