Level 3 ( LVLT) said it will replace CFO Sunit Patel, sending shares down 3% in early trading Monday.The Broomfield, Colo., wholesale telco service company said it expects to name a new finance chief in the first quarter of next year. Some observers say the timing of the move suggests that Level 3 may have missed its third-quarter financial targets. Analysts expect the company to post an adjusted loss of 11 cents a share on $1.05 billion in sales, according to Thomson Financial. Level 3 has piled up losses every year and has been in a perpetual need of outside financing as it hopes to balance the high costs of network operation and falling prices. "As the company focuses on ensuring we take full advantage of the opportunities presented by our marketplace, we believe we need a CFO with skills and experience which emphasize both operational and financial management," CEO Jim Crowe said in a press release. Patel is expected to remain with the company through the transition. Level 3 shares were down 18 cents to $4.72 in premarket trading Monday.