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SBC Communications


caught my eye today when I was thinking we could have a Dow rally. I last

looked at this stock when it reported disappointing earnings last quarter. At the time, the Street was upset that SBC wasn't doing enough to land new Net business through its DSL products.

I wrote a critical piece at the time saying that if these companies were to simply act like companies, I would own them. But they act like fossilized dinosaurs. That triggered a firestorm of criticism from SBC lovers (although I got a lot of positive feedback from people who work at

Bell Atlantic



Sure enough, when I did my search for data on SBC I came up with a telling item in this morning's

L.A. Times

. SBC slashed its monthly fees for DSL by ten bucks to $39.95 and waived its installation fees, which had been as high as $300.

Holy cow! This old pricing scheme confirms everything I was thinking about these companies -- they have no sense of the market. Who the heck can afford those old rates? This was not a question of state regulations or the

Justice Department

or the

Federal Communications Commission

. It was a question of the market, and how SBC had no feel for it.

These companies hide behind the alibi that they have to worry about regulators. What they really have to do is learn how to market. This change at SBC may be a sign that they are getting savvier.

But it is too late for this potential owner.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at